Recognizing that lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex women are at a heightened risk of suffering violence, domestic assault and gross breaches of human rights in the form of so-called “corrective” sexual assaults, the United Nations and the Council of Europe are making steps to adopt an inclusive non-discrimination article that enshrines protections covering sexual orientation and gender identity as part of a new Convention on violence against women.
ILGA-Europe used its observer status at the expert committee which drafted the Convention to argue the need to cover of sexual orientation and gender identity. We see the inclusion of these grounds as of great symbolic importance – the Convention is the first legally binding international agreement ever to cover the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity. Additionally, such an inclusion confirms that the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people constitutes an integral part of universal human rights.
The Convention will now be opened for signature in May, and will come into force when ratified by 10 member states.
Linda Freimane, co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s executive board, said on the Convention: “ILGA-Europe warmly welcomes the adoption of the Convention and the recognition that lesbian, bisexual and trans women are particularly vulnerable to violence and require specific measure of protection.”
She added, “We urge governments of Council of Europe member states to ratify the Convention as soon as possible.”
Freimane also had strong words for those who opposed the convention, saying that the Russian Federation and the Holy See’s specific opposition of protections for lesbian bisexual, trans women raised “disturbing questions regarding the extent of their commitment to such fundamental rights as the right to life, and the right to protection from violence.“
The Council of Europe defines the overall Convention as a first step in creating “a legal framework at pan-European level to protect women against all forms of violence, and prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence. The Convention also establishes a specific monitoring mechanism in order to ensure effective implementation of its provisions by the Parties.”
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