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Protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons (LGBTI rights)

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The German Government opposes any form of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and has been making every effort to combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.

Human rights include the right to free sexual orientation. However, homosexuality is a criminal offence in around 80 countries; in some countries, same-sex acts can even incur the death penalty.

Following the attack in a club in Orlando in June 2016, the Brandenburg Gate was lit up in the colours of the rainbow.
Following the attack in a club in Orlando in June 2016, the Brandenburg Gate was lit up in the colours of the rainbow.© dpa/picture alliance

The German Government opposes any form of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and has been making every effort to combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons.

The 29 Yogyakarta Principles presented by internationally renowned human rights experts in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on 23 March 2007 are regarded as the global standard for guaranteeing LGBTI persons’ human rights. The central issues are combating violence against homosexuals and the criminal prosecution of homosexuality, as well as access to education, the right to have a family, freedom of assembly and the right to asylum.

LGBTI rights in the UN

An open and objective discussion on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is still very much a taboo in many countries and regions in the world and within the United Nations (UN).

Nevertheless, progress has been made. Important milestones and achievements to date – also as regards German foreign policy – include:

  • the statement of December 2008 on sexual orientation and gender identity with regard to specific LGBTI rights, which was read out in the UN General Assembly and has since been signed by 68 countries
  • the joint statement on ending acts of violence and related human rights violations on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, which was adopted by the Human Rights Council in March 2011 and has already been signed by 85 countries
  • the Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity initially adopted in June 2011 by the Human Rights Council PDF / 39 KB
  • the mandate in July 2016 for an independent UN expert who works at international level to ensure protection against discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity along with the UN’s Free and Equal campaign, which was launched in 2013, the mandate creates an address in the UN for the rights of LGBTI persons.

Independent Expert on Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Since September 2016, Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand, a human rights and UN expert, has been the first Independent Expert on Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. His tasks include identifying cases of discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and making suggestions on how their causes can be tackled more effectively.

The EU

In June 2013, the EU adopted the Guidelines to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Persons.

The EU wants to use these guidelines to react to violations of LGBTI persons’ human rights in third countries and to have an impact on the structural causes of such violations. The emphasis is on measures to decriminalise LGBTI persons, eliminate discrimination against them, and protect and support human rights activists campaigning for LGBTI rights.

Projects and bilateral cooperation

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Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, met the organisers of the Belgrade Pride Parade in September 2016.© Marija Piroshki

Particularly in countries where the situation of LGBTI persons is especially precarious, the Federal Foreign Office seeks to help the victims of discrimination. Within the scope of bilateral cooperation, it has already promoted numerous projects aimed at improving the human rights situation of LGBTI persons. In 2017, the Federal Foreign Office is funding a large number of projects run by local partners in countries including Nigeria, Indonesia, Ukraine, Russia and Montenegro aimed at improving the human rights situation of LGBTI persons. It also regularly co-organises conferences with the Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation to which LGBTI activists from all over the world are invited in order to enable them to coordinate their work more effectively. At the Time to React conference on 1 June 2017, stakeholders from Germany and abroad discussed the declining space for civil society caused by new restrictive laws. In 2016, the conference focused on LGBTI rights in South East Europe – a region where there have recently been very positive trends, unlike the Middle East, which was the main region discussed at the conference in 2015.

The funding of the film “Parada”, which addresses attacks on gay pride parades (demonstrations for the rights of LGBTI persons), was a project that attracted great media attention. The film by Serbian director Srđan Dragojević was filmed in Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia and won the prestigious Panorama Audience Award at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in 2012. It sparked an important discussion in South East Europe that led to a gradual change in views in society. Successful gay pride parades are now held in Belgrade each year. The Federal Foreign Office regularly takes part in these events.

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