The Council of Europe ‘Compendium of good practices on local and regional level policies to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity’ shows that local and regional authorities can take appropriate measures to guarantee the rights of their LGBTI citizens. It is based on a document prepared by Council of Europe consultant Juul van Hoof from Movisie, and covers a number of policy fields including legislation, mainstreaming LGBTI issues into policy development and implementation, regional cooperation between authorities, safety and security, local visibility and awareness raising, and the access to rights, goods and services.
Local and regional authorities often do not know how to tackle discrimination and how to guarantee LGBTI people’s rights. To provide them with guidance in this regard, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe prepared a report and adopted a resolution on guaranteeing LGBTI people’s rights and how Europe’s towns and regions can take responsibility for tackling this issue. To translate the findings of the report into practical information for use by policy makers, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity unit within the Council of Europe has taken the initiative to produce this compendium of good practices at the local and regional level. It is intended to highlight good practices for those policy makers in charge of dealing with issues relating to equal opportunities within local and regional administrations.
Since discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people often takes place in their immediate surroundings, local and regional authorities have, in co-ordination with other levels of government, an important and specific role when combating discrimination against LGBTI people. The Council of Europe is committed to addressing human rights issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. It recommends the need for effective action to be taken at the local level.
Local provisions to national legislation
Most local and regional authorities rarely deal explicitly with combating discrimination against LGBTI people. However, within the framework of national legislation, local and regional authorities often have the possibility to draw up local provisions. These provisions can be an addition to the national law, or they can take the lead when national legislation has not yet been established.
The examples in this report show positive examples of local provisions for LGBTI communities. Mainstreaming LGBTI issues into local or regional policies is one way of underlining the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity matter when it comes to providing services to the public.
Collaboration at local level
Partnerships with LGBTI advocacy organisations prove to be crucial when it comes to ensuring LGBTI peoples’ human rights, whether these partnerships relate to providing information on the situation of LGBTI citizens, co-operation with Pride marches, issuing demonstration permits, ensuring adequate measures against violence or providing equal access to goods and services. Monitoring the effect of policy measures is crucial, and this should be done either by the city council itself, or by centres of expertise or research institutes.
Safe and visible
Research shows that LGBTI people are more likely to become victims of violence, with the situation for transgender people being particularly bad. In the examples shown in this report, the local dimension of violence has been made clear. Police forces, in collaboration with local and regional authorities, have a responsibility to ensure safety for all citizens, including LGBTI people, and some positive developments can be identified, such as networks of LGBTI police officers, training programmes for police forces and community policing.
When it comes to creating visibility for LGBTI communities and raising awareness about sexual orientation and gender identity, there are several ways that local and regional authorities can contribute to this. Drawing up declarations with local partners can be one way; attending specific events of the LGBTI community another.
The Compendium provides local and regional authorities with many examples that hopefully inspire others to follow suit. Local and regional governments can make use of the experiences and actions of others; in many cases the wheel does not have to be reinvented. In this way LGBTI citizens are able to rely on their local and regional governments to treat them equally, with dignity and respect.
Local and regional authorities will hopefully be inspired to:
- incorporate LGBTI issues into relevant policy areas;
- monitor experiences of LGBTI people with regard to well-being and safety in the city and integrate questions about acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity into existing local surveys and monitoring instruments;
- establish or develop partnerships with local NGOs for LGBTI issues, human rights and anti-discrimination;
- train local government staff and service providers on LGBTI issues;
- include requirements on equal treatment of LGBTI people in recruitment/tender procedures for service providers;
- provide information on the specific needs of LGBTI people;
- join regional, national and international networks to enable exchanges of good practice and experience.
The full text of the Compendium can be found on the Council of Europe website.
For more information about this topic, please contact Juul van Hoof.