Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

France and the fight against human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity worldwide

Combating human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is a key concern for France’s foreign policy on human rights.

Homosexual relations between consenting adults are currently illegal in some 80 countries. The punishments prescribed take various forms, up to and including capital punishment in the case of seven countries. In many States (even those that do not criminalise homosexuality or transgender), discriminatory laws and infringements of the rights to freedom of expression, privacy, health, employment, education and immigration are common practice, as are harassment, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial execution, extending even to those who defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

France is actively engaged both within international fora and in the field to promote the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality and to combat the stigmatisation and serious human rights violations that LGBT people are subjected to all over the world.

France has many initiatives to its credit:

At the United Nations

In 2008, France and the Netherlands jointly presented the text of a Declaration on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to the United General Assembly, to date endorsed by 68 States. In pursuance of its commitment, France organised a World Congress for Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, held in Paris in 2009.

France also supported the adoption by the UN Human Rights Council on 22 March 2011 of a joint statement on sexual orientation and gender, delivered by Colombia on behalf of 85 States from every continent.

France also contributed to the adoption of the first United Nations resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity, presented by South Africa and Brazil and adopted by the Human Rights Council in June 2011. The resolution called upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare the first-ever United Nations report on discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity (published in December 2011) and to organise a panel discussion of the report to be held at the 19th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2012.

At European level

France played its part in the preparation of a "Toolkit" adopted by the EU in June 2010 and designed to provide the staff of EU institutions and member States with an operational set of tools to be used in promoting and protecting the fundamental human rights of LGBT people around the world.

France also works through the Council of Europe to promote respect for and defence of the human rights of LGBT people, and contributed to the adoption in March 2010 of the Committee of Ministers recommendation on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. France is also an active participant in meetings of the Council of Europe contact group on the rights of LGBT people.

At national level

On 31 October 2012, France’s Council of Ministers approved a government programme to combat violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

France supports the determined efforts of human rights defenders and NGOs, key allies in this crucial battle. France, the Netherlands, Norway and four NGOs (IDAHO, ILGA, Amnesty International and FIDH) joined forces in 2010 to set up an International "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" Support Fund. The aim of this unique fund, operated by France Expertise Internationale on behalf of the French government, is to bring together the many agencies involved in combating homophobia and transphobia (both public and private) and to support local initiatives in countries where the issue of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is considered too sensitive for open public debate, and thus where the scope of action for civil society is severely curtailed. An initial international call for projects to decriminalise homosexuality and defend freedom of expression resulted in the selection in 2011 of three cooperation projects, in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

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Updated on : 03.13