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Council of Europe — Commissioner for Human Rights

Nils Muižnieks of Latvia is the current Commissioner for Human Rights, an independent, non-judicial institution of the Council of Europe.  This office was created to promote awareness of, and respect for, human rights in the 47 member States

Thomas Hammarberg – Former COE Commissioner for Human Rights

Thomas Hammarberg Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (2006 – 2012) Photo: Bengt Oberger

Thomas Hammarberg Council of Europe
Commissioner for Human Rights (2006 – 2012)
Photo: Bengt Oberger

Too few opinion leaders and leading politicians across Europe have taken a firm stand against homophobic and transphobic expressions, discrimination and violence. The Council of Europe’s former Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg stands out for having put the human rights of LGBT persons and the fight against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity firmly on his agenda.  

As Commissioner, he regularly raised transgender issues with authorities in member states, and has expressed his concerns in country monitoring reports and specific thematic publications.  Among these was the Issue Paper on Human Rights and Gender Identity which was issued 29 July, 2009, and is available at: https://wcd.coe.int/wcd/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1476365

On 23 June 2011, the Commissioner launched a detailed report on “Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Europe”, covering all the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. The study relied upon input from national experts and authorities in the member states, national human rights structures, NGOs, international organisations and many others. It involved intensive cooperation with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), which kindly shared its research and data on the 27 member states of the European Union.

In addition, independent national experts or consultants prepared a legal report and a sociological/social report for each Council of Europe member state and access to all these country-specific reports are available at:
http://www.coe.int/t/commissioner/activities/Themes/LGBT/nationalreports_en.asp

The UK legal report can be downloaded directly from:
http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/attachments/LGBT-2010_thematic-study_UK.pdf
The UK sociological report can be downloaded directly from:
http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/attachments/FRA-hdgso-part2-NR_UK.pdf

Thomas Hammarberg set the standard for LGBT advocacy in a human rights context.  His work has laid the groundwork for many advances and continues to be a positive example for the international community.