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European Conference puts LGBT issues under the spotlight

Kaleidoscope Trust welcomes UK funding of LGBT Unit in the Council of Europe.

Lynn Featherstone joined the Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg and Sir Nicolas Bratza, President of the European Court of Human Rights, to launch a landmark conference on LGBT rights at the Palais de l'Europe yesterday. This was the first time in the history of the Council of Europe that the Chair had devoted one of its days to discuss the issue of LGBT rights. The Kaleidoscope Trust was represented by one of its director, David Chalmers. 


The conference, "Combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity across Europe: sharing knowledge and moving forward" bought together gay rights activists and politicians. The conference was attended by Ministers and representatives from many member states including Russia. In light of the recent anti gay laws enacted in St Petersburg, the participation in the conference by the Russians is welcomed by Kaleidoscope.

The LGBT Unit will monitor how member states are implementing the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the enjoyment of human rights as adopted by the Committee of Ministers of all 47 member states and by the Parliamentary assembly in 2010. The LGBT Unit will initially be working alongside governments of Italy, Latvia, Montenegro, Poland, Albania and Serbia to assist them to implement the recommendations.


The Kaleidoscope Trust's David Chalmers, who also represented a number of LGBT organisations across Europe, said:


"We were delighted to be a part of such high level discussions on how the member states of the Council of Europe can work together to improve the lives of LGBT people across Europe. We often focus our attention on other parts of the world but it is not to be forgotten that we have a lot of work to do here in Europe to achieve equality for our LGBT citizens and ensure that everyone's human rights are respected and protected equally. The Council of Europe has an important role to play in this respect and the new LGBT Unit is an excellent development. The UK Government have used their time as Chair of the Council of Europe to take a lead in the fight to end discrimination against LGBT people across Europe and deserve to be congratulated."