Bring-In the discussion on Gender, Sex and Human Rights

Dr Ilektra Simitsi

Project Manager

The last decades the LGBT+ communities are fighting towards the elimination of the discriminations against them, promoting policies of equal rights and seeking the enforcement of their rights in all different aspects of life. But as the LGBT+ community operates collectively, states choose to act differently.

There is a huge gap of how states deal with the LGBT+ community and their rights as human beings. Some states, for example, have ratified regulations regarding the act of marriage between people of same-sex, while in others homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment or even death[1]. The effort to minimize all forms of gender discrimination, and conversely to punish people for their sexual choices, is not only a matter of legislative debate but also plays an important role in shaping social attitudes and combating stereotypical behaviors.

One of the flagship documents on the protection of human rights is the “Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” (ECHR) that has been signed by 47 member states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey (1949) Iceland and Germany (1950), Austria (1956), Cyprus (1961), Switzerland (1963), Malta (1965), Portugal (1976), Spain (1977), Liechtenstein (1978), San Marino (1988), Finland (1989), Hungary (1990), Poland (1991), Bulgaria (1992), Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania (1993), Andorra (1994), Latvia, Albania, Moldova, Ukraine, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”(1995), Russian Federation and Croatia (1996), Georgia (1999), Armenia and Azerbaijan (2001), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2002), Serbia (2003), Monaco (2004), Montenegro (2007)[2]. Additionally, the Convention established the European Court of Human Rights and is widely considered the most effective international treaty for human rights protection [3].

The ECHR declares the obligation to respect Human Rights (art. 1), the right to life (art. 2), the right to liberty and security (art. 5), the right to respect private and family life (art. 8), the freedom of expression (art. 10), the right to marry (art. 12), the right to an effective remedy (art. 13), prohibition of discrimination (art. 14), and along with Protocol No. 12 that applied the current expansive and indefinite grounds of prohibited discrimination in Article 14 to the exercise of any legal right and to the actions (including the obligations) of public authorities, it guarantees the rights without distinction as to sex, race, color, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, membership of an ethnic minority, property, birth or other status. Apart from the ECHR, the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is annexed to the Lisbon Treaty, includes a chapter entitled ´Equality`. This sets out the principles of non-discrimination, equality between men and women, and cultural, religious and linguistic diversity. It also covers the rights of children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The Greek society, although it has made significant steps towards the recognition of some LGBT+ rights, it is still at an early stage in the social and legal acceptance of this diversity. On the 23rd of December 2015, the bill allowing people regardless of their gender to enter into a civil partnership agreement has been ratified, so as to officialize their cohabitation. It is worth noting that same-sex couples were excluded when the law was enacted in 2008, which condemned Greece to the European Court of Human Rights.

In many countries, including Greece, still there are pending matters related to the rights of marriage, child adoption and access to the labor market that bring controversies in ways of acting. But the rights of the LGBT+ community shall be considered as an interconnected part of human rights, since the sexual orientation of every person is an element of their human identity and is related to the inherent dignity and worth of every human being[4].

Apart from the legislative acts whose role is to regulate situations and not to formulate opinions, the social mechanism should also work to make the issue of sexual preferences and social gender better understood.  A key factor that has a positive impact towards the understanding of sex orientation and gender, is both informing the public at large, but also gaining specialized knowledge of the professions linked in one way or another to the LGBT+ community. These experts are not only social workers or psychologists, but trainers, legal experts and doctors. Thus, education affects all the different aspects of the society.

This is the main concept of the Bring-In project, which aims at promoting Intersex/Variations of Sex Characteristics Equality in Greece, Hungary, UK and Bulgaria by building the capacity of social and healthcare professionals through an Online Resource Learning Platform that will be developed by ITML, on how to recognize, prevent and combat discrimination on the grounds of sex characteristics, while raising public awareness and advocating for the need to act upon the human rights violations that many face. Bring-In seeks for a safe and inclusive EU, where diversity is celebrated and equality is secured. In the EU, equal treatment is – and will always be – a fundamental right.

Today we realize that it is imperative to what Bring-In addresses, since extreme discrimination against LGBT+ rights persists, even by countries that are signatories to the ECHR. A blatant violation of human rights was the recent proposal for a law posed by the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, which was approved by the Parliament, to ban the “promotion” of homosexuality or gender reassignment among minors. That is, educational programs or advertisements by large corporations (such as Coca-Cola) that are in solidarity with homosexuals will no longer be allowed. Among the controversial amendments are the creation of a database of convicted persons accessible to the public, or even the prohibition to practice certain professions. This new attack on LGBT+ people comes against a backdrop of a hardening of the policies of Viktor Orbán.

Events such as this, are an affront to human dignity, resulting in restricting rather than promoting individual freedom that allows the development of a person’s inner wealth of skills and abilities. Such events of insane totalitarianism violate fundamental legal principles and bring to the present discussions of the past concerning the deprivation of rights.

Human rights not only define the relationship between citizens and the state, but also limit the power of the state and at the same time require the state to take positive measures to ensure an environment that allows the individual to enjoy his or her rights. Respect human rights is always the most basic guarantee of freedom for all individuals, the irrefutable criterion of the democratic nature of a state. The permanent objective is the protection of human dignity and human rights of all.

This project is funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union (2014-2020) under grant agreement No 881824.

[1] ILGA-Europe staff, Coordinating and editorial team: Evelyne Paradis, Silvan Agius, Juris Lavrikovs, Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People in Europe, ILGA-Europe, 2013 

[2] More information on the States are available at

[3] European Convention on Human Rights Guide for the Civil & Public Service (Report), Irish Human Rights Commission, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9569820-7-0 available at echr_guide.pdf (

[4] Sophia Katsigiani, Right to diversity – The guaranteed rights of homosexuals, June 10 2017, accessed on 23/07/2021, available at Δικαίωμα στη διαφορετικότητα – Τα κατοχυρωμένα δικαιώματα των ομοφυλοφίλων | Σοφία Φ. Κατσίγιαννη (