Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Winter 1990-1991

Humanist Resolution Carried at Strasbourg

A strongly worded resolution calling on all member states of the Council of Europe, including the UK, to repeal laws which discriminate against homosexuality has been adopted by delegates of organisations which officially advise the Council of Europe on human rights issues. These organisations, which hold consultative status with the Council of Europe, include the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Amnesty International, the Red Cross, the International Press Institute, the International Federation of Teachers’ Associations and the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

At their 67th meeting held in Strasbourg on 2 October 1990, the delegates based their motion on a memorandum concerning recent anti-homosexual legislation, in particular the UK’s notorious Section 28, presented by IHEU at the 64th meeting in September 1989.

After over a year’s reflection and discussion on this document, which cites many instances of legalised discrimination against homosexual men and women in the UK as a direct result of the enactment of Section 28, the IHEU-sponsored resolution was passed by a majority of over two thirds.

The resolution was drafted by Kees Waaldijk, a GALHA member who lectures in law at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, and it was introduced by the IHEU’s permanent representative at Strasbourg, Professor Mario de Sterio. It expresses the conviction that ‘moral’ or religious objections to homosexuality should not be used as justification for the persecution of homosexual men and women and states that anti-homosexual legislation such as Section 28 will encourage further discrimination and attacks against such members of the community.

The resolution further calls on member states of the Council of Europe to repeat all laws which discriminate against homosexual men and women and to refrain from introducing any new discriminatory legislation. It also asks the Council of Europe to monitor and report on infringements of homosexual human rights in its 23 member states.

Although the resolution has no binding legal effect, it puts further pressure on both the Council of Europe and individual members, such as the UK, to ensure full legal equality for lesbians and gay men, and IHEU describes it as “an important step towards a formal recognition in Europe of the rights of homosexuals to be treated with equality in law and dignity in society”.

Commenting on the resolution in a press statement, GALHA secretary George Broadhead said: “IHEU is to be congratulated for its persistence in this matter and for the entirely successful outcome. With the regrettable refusal of the Council of Europe to grant consultative status to the International Lesbian and Gay Association, it seems that IHEU is the only organisation with such status which is prepared to take a lead in defending the rights of lesbians and gays in European countries.”

IHEU, which was founded in 1952 and is based in the Netherlands, represents more than three million members of 67 humanist organisations in 30 countries. Its early sponsors were also instrumental in the founding of the United Nations. They included Lord Boyd Orr (first head of the World Food Organization), Sir Julian Huxley (first head of UNESCO), and Brock Chisholm of Canada (the first head of the World Health Organization).

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Created : Sunday, 2003-03-09 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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