The case law of the European Court of Human Rights on sexual orientation and gender identity

Iván Manzano Barragán

This article examines the gradual recognition of the fundamental rights and freedoms of persons belonging to sexual minorities within the framework of the Council of Europe, and the judgements of the Strasbourg Court. Since the 1980s, the control bodies of the European Convention on Human Rights have laid down the ground rules for the consolidation of minimum standards in the field of sexual minority rights, which are to be respected by all State parties. Given that the Convention does not make an express reference to the individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, the case law developed by the European Court of Human Rights has been based primarily on the right to respect of private and family life as set out in Article 8, considered independently or in combination with the prohibition of discrimination provided for under Article 14. The European Court has taken a pragmatic approach vis-à-vis the degree of protection afforded to sexual minorities, in parallel with the evolution of social perceptions on homosexuality and transsexualism, narrowing the margin of appreciation accorded to member States of the Council of Europe in this field.

1. Introducción.—2. La legalización de las relaciones homosexuales.— 2.1. La despenalización de las prácticas sexuales entre personas del mismo sexo.—2.2. La igualación de la edad de consentimiento.—3. Hacia la plena igualdad de trato de gais y lesbianas.—3.1. La discriminación en el mundo laboral.—3.2. El derecho a la vida familiar de los homosexuales.—3.2.1. Custodia y adopción.—3.2.2. Parejas del mismo sexo.—3.3. La discriminación en materia de libertad de reunión y de asociación.—4. El avance de los derechos de las personas transexuales.— 4.1. El reconocimiento legal de la identidad de género.—4.2. El derecho a contraer matrimonio.—5. Consideraciones finales

discrimination; European Court of Human Rights; gender identity; sexual minorities; sexual orientation; transsexualism;

REDI Vol. LXIV 2 2012



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