Trans specific recommendations from the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
© European Communities, 1996/ Source: EC – Audiovisual Service
What is ECRI ?
The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) is the only continuous watchdog in the Council of Europe. It is a forum of independent human-rights experts, appointed by national governments, who monitor racism, xenophobia and intolerance in all member states. Recently, ECRI has been including homo- and transphobic violence in its country reports, documenting cases, and its recommendations call upon state authorities to introduce specific legislation and take pronounced measures against this violence.
ECRI is not a treaty body, but does monitor the Council of Europe member states through country reports. Each country is reviewed in cycles of every 4-5 year; ECRI reviews about 10-12 countries per year. ECRI looks at issues of racism and intolerance that are prevailing in the country. It also examines in its reports whether previous recommendations have been implemented by the respective state.
ECRI has made in recent reports observations and important recommendations on human rights violations of trans people. In the 5th reporting cycle ECRI addressed trans-related issues in regard to anti-discrimination legislation, hate speech & hate crime and access of LGBT people to health, education and employment. ECRI is sensitive to the fact that situations in different countries may require different responses. Issues and recommendations are thus not made in one-size-fits-all manner, but country-specific and often taking into account the perspective of NGOs.
TGEU has collated information from recent ECRI reports with trans-specific observations and recommendations.
Download the recommendations from all country reports covering gender identity issues here:
Trans-specific reports by country
To ensure these information are easily used by activists, both PDF and word documents are available for country reports.
- Czech Republic
Countries where the reports do not (yet) include issues related to gender identity: Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, UK.
How can you or your organisation be involved ?
ECRI reports are drawn up after a contact visit (fact-finding mission) in the country, where the ECRI rapporteur meets with national authorities. ECRI organizes information sessions with NGOs and invites written input to include the perspective of civil society. Information from civil society on homo- and transphobia and general human rights violations of trans people should be sent as early as possible to the ECRI secretariat, to ensure it is included in the briefing for the rapporteur, the questionnaire sent to the government for preparation, and the preparation of the visit itself. Ideally, this would be three months before the envisioned country visit.
The country visit usually lasts 3-5 days, but can last also up to 10 days. During the country visit the Rapporteur invites NGOs to present and discuss their concerns. State authorities are not present at these meetings.
After the visit, the ECRI rapporteur (together with the ECRI secretariat) prepares the country report, which is then debated and adopted at the ECRI plenary meeting, in June or December. It usually takes one year from country visit to the publication of the report. ECRI might organize a public in-country presentation of the report and/ or follow up on recommendations e.g. in form of a roundtable inviting both authorities and civil society.
The list of planned and previous country visits can be found in the calendar on the ECRI website: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/About/calendar_2016.asp (For other years exchange “2016” with the corresponding year in the URL).
Regular and Ad-hoc Information
ECRI cannot intervene in individual cases, but it can and does issue statements of urgency. (See for example a statement on homophobic hate speech in Armenia from June 2012 here) ECRI country reports are thus better suited for achieving long-term advocacy goals. However, it is worthwhile to keep the ECRI secretariat informed between visits on the human rights situations of trans people in the country. Send relevant regular or ad-hoc information to email@example.com (cc to firstname.lastname@example.org).
NGO Country Brief
Prior to a country visit, a NGO country brief ideally describes the most pressing issues in a short and concise manner, with clear reference to the mandate and issues covered by ECRI. It should particularly highlight were state authorities (were asked, but) failed to respond to a human rights violation, or where state actors are perpetrators. The brief should contain credible references to back up claims as well as concrete policy demands and recommendations on how the situation can be improved.
Transgender Europe is happy to assist in facilitating contact or support the preparation of a country brief. Email Richard (email@example.com) prior to sending information and keep TGEU in the loop during/ after a country visit.
In June 2013, TGEU was informed about an up-coming country visit to Bulgaria. During June/ July TGEU informed and supported LGBT NGO Bilitis’ to prepare a briefing paper on trans and intersex issues for the ECRI secretariat. In November 2013 Bilitis participates in the ECRI Rapporteur’s Country Visit. In June 2014 the ECRI plenary meeting adopts the country report and in Sept 2014 the ECRI Bulgaria country report is published, addressing human rights violations of trans people in several areas, such as lack of gender identity as hate motive in criminal code, lack of gender identity in anti-discrimination act, vulnerability of trans and gender non-conforming people to discrimination in employment and bullying in school, lack of proper legal gender recognition including the recommendation to drop surgery requirement, recommendation the state should cover hormone replacement treatment, lack of lgbt-specific hate crime data and documenting 6 attacks against trans people; highlighting the vulnerability of trans people & police mistrust.
ECRI recommendations (with relevance to trans people):
- ECRI recommends that the authorities include sexual orientation and gender identity in all the Articles of the Criminal Code addressing hate speech and hate crime (Articles 162, 163, 131 and 116)
- ECRI recommends that the authorities amend the Anti-Discrimination Act to include gender identity a s a ground of discrimination.
- ECRI recommends that the authorities collect data on hate speech and hate crime against LGBT persons, including on the number of cases reported, investigated an prosecuted.
- ECRI encourages the authorities to undertake research and collect data on LGBT persons in Bulgaria as well as on discrimination and intolerance against them.
- ECRI recommends that the authorities develop legislation on gender recognition legislation and gender reassignment enduring that it is in line with international standards and expertise.
- ECRI recommends that the authorities draw up and adopt an action plan to combat homophobia and transphobia in all areas of everyday life, including education, employment and health care, taking inspiration from Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
ECRI Monitoring work:
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