The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, has called for more protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

“Since I took up the office, I have been quite horrified by the extent of homophobia in a number of countries in Europe”, he said in a video message shown at a conference on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons.

The event was held on Thursday in the European Parliament in Brussels.

LGBT people have faced opposition and discrimination in European countries such as Poland and Lithuania (where Pride events have been banned) and Turkey (where gay rights groups have been harassed by the authorities).

The Commissioner raised several concerns regarding the effective respect of LGBT persons’ rights; in particular to be protected from hate crimes and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

He also stressed the importance of freedom of assembly and that when peaceful Gay Pride Marches are organised they should not be obstructed by national and local authorities.

Hammarberg referred to widespread discrimination against LGBT persons and the need for comprehensive inclusive anti-discrimination legislation.

“Regulations and laws should list all grounds for discrimination including sexual orientation which is not always the case”.

Finally, the Commissioner stressed the importance of the Yogyakarta Principles, a worldwide initiative which analyses international human rights law through a LGBT persons’ prism, and their relevance for future respect for human rights for all.

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