LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers on LGBT rights

In 2010, the Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity established the gold standard of LGBT rights in Europe. 

Agreed unanimously by the 47 Council of Europe member states, it was the first and only agreement between governments to combat discrimination against LGBT people in Europe. Although not legally binding, it was based solidly on existing legally binding international and European human rights obligations. Member states therefore have a clear duty to implement its measures. It has been widely used by states and civil society alike in an effort to improve the lives of LGBT people in Europe.

It was also agreed to review the implementation progress of member states on a regular basis. The first review of the implementation took place in 2013, the second in 2018. The reviews are a crucial movement to assess progress made, but also to identify gaps in implementation that need to be tackled more comprehensively. The reviews are not only an important reminder for member states, but also inform the work of the Council of Europe in supporting the protection of LGBTI rights through its work.

Second Review of the Council of Europe Recommendation on LGBT Rights 2018

Between March and July 2018, ILGA-Europe and Transgender Europe (TGEU) supported 11 LGBTQI and 5 trans organisations in preparing country reports on 16 member states (Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden). For ILGA-Europe's summary of the findings of these 16 reports, and its detailed recommendations to the Council of Europe and member states, please click here.

Since the Recommendation was adopted in 2010, there have been significant gains in the Council of Europe region that secured legal rights for LGBTQI people. However, the work on LGBTQI equality is nowhere near done. Worrisome backlash, a rhetoric of hate, populism, nationalism, and state-led persecution in a number of member states remind us that efforts to combat violence and discrimination on grounds of SOGIESC must be reaffirmed, continued, and strengthened.

This assessment will help guide the Council’s work in supporting member states regarding implementation. The submitting organisations welcome that during this second review, the Council extended the invitation for civil society organisations and national human rights structures (NHRSs) to also submit reports.

First Review of the Council of Europe Recommendation on LGBT Rights 2013

At the time of the first review, civil society organisation had not been officially invited to submit to contribute to the review, but nevertheless many did.   

ILGA-Europe supported LGBTI organisations in 16 Council of Europe member states in preparing implementation reports. The countries involved are Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia and Ukraine. Find all the country reports to the right.

The overall assessment was that while there were signs of actions towards implementation in five countries starting to be taken(Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal and Serbia), in 11 countries, little or no action had been taken to implement the Recommendation. ILGA-Europe therefore issued a strong call for substantive efforts by all member states to implement the Recommendation, and for the Council of Europe to increase its support to member states for this purpose. For ILGA-Europe's summary of the findings of these 16 reports, and its detailed recommendations to the Council of Europe and member states, please click here.

For further information and advice please contact Cianán Russell, Senior Policy Officer.