ECLJ:  Council of Europe Postpones Vote on Resolution on “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity”

By ECLJ1264621236807

(Strasbourg, France) - The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) is pleased to announce that, due to the large number of amendments opposing the report, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has decided to postpone the vote on the Report on “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” and its amendments.  A vote was originally scheduled for today, but after strong debate – including growing opposition – the vote was postponed.  The vote on the report is now expected to occur during the next PACE session, in April 2010, after examination of the many amendment in Parliamentary Committee.

You can find here a copy of the amendments tabled for discussion in April.

This report, entitled "Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity" (Doc. 12087) faces very strong opposition mainly because it notably diminishes and even threatens fundamental rights, such as the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion and conscience, the higher interest of children and the States’ sovereign interest and right to protect public morality, family and the best interests of the child. During the debates, it has also been noted by several Members of Parliament that the terminology used by the report is very vague and can not be accepted as such. The notion of “hate speech” has particularly been criticized for endangering free speech.

In anticipation to the debate, the ECLJ prepared a comprehensive Memorandum on the proposed resolution. In its memorandum, the ECLJ examined the main provisions of the draft Resolution under the requirements of European and international law, and of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. The fact is that this resolution should not result in damage to the family and negate the fundamental rights of people who are not lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT) – especially in the areas of freedom of speech and religious belief.

The ECLJ concluded that the draft resolution should be amended in order to maintain the definition of the family and to protect the fundamental right to disagree with the ideology of those promoting gender identity. 

Dr. Grégor Puppinck, the director of the ECLJ, hopes that the PACE will understand that “the appropriate response to violence and unjust discrimination against LGBT people should not include eliminating moral pluralism. It is vital to protect and promote both free speech and freedom of religion in moral matters.”

The ECLJ continues to recommend amending the Resolution in order to:

  • Reaffirm its respect for article 9 and 10 of the European Convention;
  • Provide a legal definition of “Hate Speech” and reaffirm that this concept shall never end in a limitation of free speech;
  • Provide a legal and practical definition of “homophobia” or abandon this concept;
  • Include a general provision reaffirming the fundamental right to freedom of religious opinion, in private and in public, including matters of morality.
  • Reaffirm the fundamental right of individuals and of religious and confessional organizations to act according to their moral and religious beliefs.
  • Reaffirm that the moral or religious ethos of employers or service providers should be duly taken into account in the appreciation of the legality of discrimination.
  • Refer to Article 12 of the European Convention, recalling that it only protects the right of persons of the opposite sex to enter into the covenant of “traditional marriage.”
  • Reaffirm that there is no “right” to same sex marriage or partnership under international and European law.
  • Reaffirm that marriage is a public institution that is fundamentally “child-centered”. 

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The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) is an international law firm focusing on the protection of human rights and religious freedom in Europe and worldwide.  The ECLJ is affiliated with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) which focuses on protecting religious freedom in the United States. Attorneys for the ECLJ have served as counsel in numerous cases before the European Court of Human Rights.  Additionally, the ECLJ has special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the United Nations, and is accredited to the European Parliament.

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