International Governmental and Non-governmental Organisations

The following is an alphabetical list of international organisations active in the field of gender equality and human rights, generally but not exclusively with a European bias (Last Updated: 10 Jan. 2011).

- Amnesty International (European Institutions Office) – A worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights to be respected and protected for everyone. In October 2010 Nicholas Beger, Office Director described a forthcoming transgender policy document.

- The Commercial Closet – improving LGBT perceptions through better advertising, a program of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

- The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is a United Nations body of 23 independent experts belonging to The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In October 2010, it adopted general recommendations affirming that discrimination of women based on gender and sex is inextricably linked with other factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

- Council of Europe – Its primary aim is to create a common democratic and legal area across the continent ensuring respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It adopted its own treaty, the European Social Charter in 1961 (revised 1996) which aims to guarantee social and economic rights. On 29 July 2009 the Council's then Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, published a landmark Issue Paper on Human rights and Gender Identity. A status report is expected in Jan. 2011. On 31 March 2010 it published Recommendations on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

- EQUINET – The European Network of Equality Bodies which brings together 33 organisations from 28 countries empowered to counteract discrimination based on age, disability, gender, race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, and sexual orientation.

- European Union Agency for Fundamental Human Rights – An EC body helping to make respect for human rights a reality for everyone in the European Union. The Agency's work especially contributes to ensuring those proclaimed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union are being enjoyed in practice. Article 21 within Chapter III deals with LGBT rights, homophobia and transphobia. Its work in the field is detailed here which highlights a March 2009 report on "Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the EU Member States." It was published in two parts: Part I - Legal Analysis and Part II - The Social Situation. Part I was updated in Sept.2010 and encouragingly elevates the issue of Transphobia to its title.

- Global Advocates for Trans Equality – GATE is a trans network coordinator, facilitator and advocate which works to unite the movement for a common goal, while developing the ‘trans agenda’ on a conceptual policy level. Its ongoing research project aims to produce a periodic report on the legal situation worldwide for governments and activists reference.

- European Court of Human Rights – An international court set up in 1959 and based in Strasbourg which rules on individual or State applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Constantin Cojocariu of INTERIGHTS (see below) was quoted as saying in Oct. 2010 that: "while transgender cases have been brought under Articles 6, 8 and 12 of the Convention, none have yet to be brought related to Articles 2 and 3. Bringing cases here would help advance trans rights in Europe."

- European Institute for Gender Equality – A European agency supporting the Member States and the European institutions in their efforts to promote gender equality, to fight discrimination based on sex and to raise awareness of gender issues. On 21 September 2010 it adopted its Strategy for equality between women and men (2010-2015) which among other things deals with gender stereotypes, effective legal protection and tackling multiple discrimination. The strategy builds on the experience of its Roadmap for equality between women and men (2006-2010).

- European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights – An informal forum of up to 90 Members of the European Parliament interested in issues that impact the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people—as well as their families and employers. On 22 September, 2010 it posted its view on the 'Gender Institute's' new equality strategy. The group now also hosts a monthly Podcast. Encouragingly, the parliament's 2009 annual report (adopted Dec. 2010) pays particular attention to human rights violations on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. It calls for increased efforts to combat the violence and discrimination lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face.

- European Trade Union Confederation – ETUC was founded in 1973 and represents 82 trade union organisations in 36 European countries, plus 12 industry-based federations. On 4 December 2008 it adopted recommendations for actions and activities on promoting equal rights, respect and dignity for workers regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

- European Women's Lobby – The largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU) that aims at promoting women’s rights and equality between women and men in the European Union.

- Human Rights Watch – One of the world’s leading independent international non-governmental organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights that is involved in conducting research and advocacy.

- ILGA Europe – European arm of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association that works for the equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans & intersex people. In October 2010, it published a manual called "Make It Work: Six steps to effective LGBT human rights advocacy" (1.1 Mb, 176pg PDF file). It takes the reader through the six steps of preparing a solid advocacy plan and offers a rich collection of practical tools and best practices on advocating for equality and human rights for LGBT people in difficult circumstances.

- INTERIGHTS – The International Center for the Legal Protection of Human Rights in London works to promote respect for human rights through the use of law. It provides legal expertise to lawyers, judges and human rights defenders. Its main line of work is strategic litigation – bringing or supporting cases in critical areas (including trans rights) where there is either a potential for human rights standards to be developed or where existing standards are under threat. However, it complements this work through legal capacity building and standard setting activities and by publishing and disseminating legal information.

- The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is a leading international organization launched in 1990 and based in New York, Buenos Aires and Cape Town, dedicated to human rights advocacy on behalf of people who experience discrimination or abuse on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

- TransGender Europe – TGEU is a European network of trans and other organisations founded in 2005 that seeks to works improve legislation for trans people, raise awareness of trans people and their issues and empower trans people. On 28 October 2009 it issued the Malta Declaration during the ILGA-Europe/TGEU conference 'Putting Trans Rights on the European Agenda.' The Declaration could be considered the first step towards defining what Constantin Cojocariu of INTERIGHTS called at the 2010 bi-annual TGEU Council: the 'Golden Trans Standard.' Its mailing list hosting exchanges between persons and institutions working on human rights of trans people in Europe is called trans-info-europe.

- World Health Organisation – WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards. Its International Classification of Diseases and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) pathologises trans identities and considers it a mental health condition by virtue of its inclusion of 'gender identity disorder' in these two reference works.

- United Nations Human Rights Council - The council is an inter-governmental body created by the UN General Assembly in March 2006 responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. Its main purpose is to address human rights violations and make recommendations on them. As a body belonging to The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, it hosts the Universal Periodic Review which enables scrutiny of the human rights records of all 192 UN States. By 2011 it will have reviewed every country. It is a valuable tool for challenging and encouraging States to do more to protect the rights of lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, trans-gender and intersex people. NGOs are encouraged to make submissions and make recommendations on how to improve the human rights situation in each State.

- Yogyakarta Principles – A set of 29 international principles available in all six United Nations languages from 2006 relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. They constitute a universal guide to human rights which affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply. The Activist's Guide to the Yogyakarta Principles is a toolkit published in November 2010 and is available in English and Spanish (2.5 Mb, 75pgs pdf).

If there is an international organisation you know of dealing with gender equality and human rights that you feel should be included here, please let Inésita know via the feedback page.

n informal forum for Members of the European Parliament who are interested in issues that impact the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people—as well as their families and employers.