The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on April 6 adopted a convention to protect women from violence, including violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The convention, which will come into force when ratified by 10 member states, will be the first legally binding international agreement to directly cover sexual orientation and gender identity.
The European Region of ILGA -- the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association -- called the development "a major step forward in the fight against gender-based violence and towards full protection of women across Europe from both domestic violence and in other circumstances such as violence in public places, forced marriage, rape, 'honor' crimes and genital mutilation."
"ILGA-Europe warmly welcomes the adoption of the convention and the recognition that lesbian, bisexual and trans women are particularly vulnerable to violence and require a specific measure of protection," said board co-chair Linda Freimane.
She added: "While celebrating this important advance, we are shocked that at all stages the Russian Federation and Holy See opposed specific inclusion of protection from violence for LBT women in the convention, raising disturbing questions regarding the extent of their commitment to such fundamental rights as the right to life and the right to protection from violence."
The Council of Europe is the continent's main intergovernmental organization with a human-rights focus and is the seat of the European Court of Human Rights. The Committee of Ministers represents the national governments of the council's 47 member countries.
Assistance: Bill Kelley