The member states of the Council of Europe should pay attention to the recognition of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons also outside their own borders. Finland must also be prepared to receive observations concerning its own LGBT situation, Foreign Minister Tuomioja said in Strasbourg.
On 27 March, Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja participated in Strasbourg in a Council of Europe conference addressing the issue of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity (LGBT) and means of combating this. Great Britain, holder of the Council chairmanship and organiser of the conference, has selected the theme as one of the priorities for its chairmanship period. The work against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity has risen to a more important role in the Council of Europe.
By participating in the conference, Minister Tuomioja wanted to underscore Finland’s commitment to LGBT issues and the importance of the theme for Finland. In his address Tuomioja highlighted that this is one of the most serious human rights challenges in Europe. He commended the Council of Europe for its efforts to find solutions and particularly for issuing recommendations on measures to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity in 2010 and the report issued in 2011 by the Commissioner for Human Rights on ‘Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity’ in the member states of the Council of Europe.
As his own suggestions for solution Tuomioja emphasised the shared and common responsibility of countries. The member states of the Council of Europe should pay attention to the recognition of LGBT rights also outside their own borders, the Minister pointed out. He urged countries to comment on each other’s LGBT situation. Finland must also be prepared to receive observations concerning its own LGBT situation, Foreign Minister Tuomioja said.
The purpose of the conference was to share best practices and to seek means for recognition of LGBT rights in the Council of Europe member states and to discuss the implementation of the recommendations adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 2010. In spite of the fact that the recommendations were adopted by the Council, the situation remains challenging or even a taboo in several member states of the Council of Europe, even though LGBT rights are not a new human rights issue.
The LGBT rights are one of the priorities of Finland’s international human rights policy.