Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons continue to be subjected to discrimination and prejudice in Europe. In Russia, the federal government is considering adopting a bill that calls for fines of up to €12,350 for “spreading homosexual propaganda” amongst minors. The bill comes in the wake of legislation adopted in February in St Petersburg which gay rights activists say could be used to ban public demonstrations. In Serbia, public demonstrations by gay activists were banned last October due to security concerns. Another issue recently highlighted was adoption in LGBT civil partnerships. On 15th March, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a French ruling against allowing one partner in a civil partnership from adopting the child that her partner had conceived.
In light of such issues, a landmark conference on LGBT rights was organised by the Council of Europe on 27th March. Entitled “Combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity across Europe: sharing knowledge and moving forward”, the conference was attended by Member State ministers and representatives, with high-level human rights experts taking the floor. Participants discussed the question of how to realise the Council’s LGBT Rights recommendations, as adopted by all 47 Member States in 2010. The Council of Europe has now set up a special LGBT unit to focus on the issue. The unit will monitor the implementation of the recommendations in Member States, initially assisting Italy, Latvia, Montenegro, Poland, Albania and Serbia, in implementing the recommendations.
The European Youth Forum recognises that the issue of sexual orientation is increasingly discussed in European countries. Politicians and policy makers however appear reticent to proactively initiate measures to prevent and bring an end to discrimination against LGBT people. In light of this, the Youth Forum welcomes the Council of Europe’s efforts to strive towards conferring on LGBT persons the rights to which they are entitled.