UPDATE: Major debate on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination at the Council of Europe

February 2, 2010

Further to my recent post about the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s debate on the report on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, transcriptions have been published and are available here. Speeches in English are reported in full; speeches in other languages are summarised, and speeches in German and Italian are reproduced in full in a separate document.

The text of the draft resolution and draft recommendation are published as part of a report by the Rapporteur (which itself contains much information about LGBT rights), and can be found here (English, without amendments).

Although the debate took place as scheduled, the voting on the Rapporteur’s report and resolution did not take place.

This is because, as some 80 amendments were tabled at the very last moment, it was not possible to review them all. Consequently the voting has been postponed until April 2010. The majority of those amendments were outrageously homo- and transphobic. Despite this, I gather that the debate was generally positive.

However, in the light of the current saturation coverage in the mass media about the Pope’s attack on the UK’s Equality Bill, it should be noted that the Holy See apparently also deemed it appropriate to attempt to derail the PACE debates. The Holy See’s suggestion for leadership of the European People’s Party, Luca Volonte (Italy) was successful, although its suggestion for the position of judge was not, and attempts to amend the ICPD resolution in line with its wishes failed.

I have it on good authority that this letter (direct link to PDF) was sent on 8 January 2010 by Luigi Ventura (the Papal Nuncio) to some delegates and addressed, among other things, the SOGI debate. Item 1 on the second page of the letter translates into English (via Google Translate) as follows:

1. Draft resolution on “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Rapporteur: Andreas Gross, Deputy – Voting: Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The text poses serious problems. We could try to introduce the following ideas:

  • Reaffirm respect of Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention.
  • Propose a legal definition of “Hate Speech” and reaffirmed that this concept can never limit the freedom of expression.
  • Introduce a general proposition, which reaffirms the fundamental right to freedom of religious opinions, in public and in private, including matters of morality.
  • Reaffirm the fundamental right of all persons and faith-based organizations to act according to their moral beliefs and religions.
  • Reaffirm that the behavior (ethos) moral or religious employers or service providers would not be violated by judgments about the value of the legality of discrimination.
  • In reference to article 12 of the European Convention, remember that this Article only protects the right of individuals to different sex marriage.
  • Reaffirm that under international and European law, there is no “right” to marriage or union of persons of the same sex.

If these amendments are accepted, and if the text of the Resolution is unacceptable, Parliamentarians should oppose its approval. For any further information they can contact the Depute Luca VOLONTE, who coordinates the amendments consistent with the position of the Holy See.

It seems to borrow directly from a paper prepared by the European Centre for Law and Justice, an affiliate of the American Center for Law and Justice, which was founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson. That ECLJ paper may be downloaded from their website (link here). It’s interesting, if disturbing, to see the obvious similarities between the documents.

As already mentioned, the vote on the SOGI resolution was postponed to April. It’s to be hoped that our representatives at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will reject the Holy See’s attempt to strip the resolution of any and all meaningful substance.


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4 Responses to “UPDATE: Major debate on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination at the Council of Europe”

  1. earwicga Says:

    Well, seems that this point from the draft resolution is particularly apt then:

    “6. Hate speech by certain public figures, including religious leaders, and hate speech in the media and internet are also of particular concern. The Assembly stresses that it is the paramount duty of all public authorities not only to protect the rights enshrined in human rights instruments in a practical and effective manner, but also to refrain from speech likely to legitimise and fuel discrimination or hatred based on intolerance.”

    Are the 80 ammendments available to read anywhere online?

  2. Helen G Says:

    Yeah, it does rather reconfirm the idea that the religious right is only interested in human rights and equality, etc, as long as it gets to make the rules.

    Are the 80 ammendments available to read anywhere online?

    I haven’t found them yet but will post them here as soon as I do.

  3. earwicga Says:

    I’m just reading today’s report and am surprised it is so readable. Shame trans women and trans men have been typed as single words though.

    From the original report:

    “- Transphobia can be described as an irrational fear of gender non-conformity or gender transgression.”

    Would you agree this is a good definition of transphobia?

  4. Helen G Says:

    It’s as good as any I’ve read and echoes the words of Julia Serano in Whipping Girl – she identifies transphobia as “an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against people whose gendered identities, appearances or behaviors deviate from societal norms”.

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