(Source: ILGA-Europe, 4 Oct 2013)
The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination unanimously appointed Mr Biedron as General rapporteur on the rights of LGBT people at its meeting in Madrid on 17 September 2013. Mr Biedron replaces Mr Håkon Haugli who was the first holder of this mandate. The General rapporteur on LGBT rights has the responsibility to intervene in the area of the protection and the promotion of the rights of LGBT people, particularly on issues related to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. In this interview, Mr Biedron explains his role and and the priorities of his mandate.
You have just been appointed General rapporteur. Could you tell us more about your role in the Assembly and the priorities of your mandate for the coming year?
The General rapporteur plays an important role in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I can intervene in the area of the protection and the promotion of the rights of LGBT people. I shall also report periodically to the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination on the information collected and the actions taken. Violations of the rights of LGBT people are indeed a major problem in Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly has adopted several resolutions and recommendations regarding this issue and I will follow up on their implementation. My roadmap will be the recent report by Mr Håkon Haugli, former General rapporteur, on “Tackling discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity”. I will do my best to continue his excellent work.
What are, in your opinion, the most pressing issues of concern with regard to the situation of LGBT people in Europe?
I am sure that understanding that LGBT rights are basic human rights is crucial.
The criminalisation of same-sex relations in some parts of Europe or legislation on the prohibition of so-called “homosexual propaganda” go against fundamental human rights.
Some countries should be also encouraged to execute the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights on LGBT issues. The situation of transgender people and LBT women should also have more attention in the work of the Assembly. I see the General rapporteur as a strong link between the Assembly and all human rights institutions and will try to follow this line.
In March 2013, the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination organised a major conference on freedom of expression for LGBT people in Warsaw. How do you assess the situation of LGBTs in Poland?
The Warsaw Conference was an important symbol of changes in this part of Europe. Even a few years ago, we would not have been able to hold this conference at the Polish Parliament. Positive changes in the situation of LGBT people in Poland are visible. In this regard, Poland might be a good example for other countries. Being a first openly homosexual member of parliament in Central and Eastern Europe and the General rapporteur is a sign of changes and a chance for further developments in human rights.
About the General rapporteur
Mr Biedron was elected member of the Polish Parliament on 9 October 2011 and participated since then in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and its Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination. He is also the Vice-Chairperson of the Committee of Justice and Human Rights and a member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs at the Sejm. Mr Biedron holds a Master’s degree in political science, graduated from the School of Political and Social Leaders and from the School of Human Rights run by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.
Before his election, he was a member of the Programme and Consultation Board by the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Status of Women and Men and an advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka. Mr Biedron is an originator, co-founder and a long-term president of the Campaign Against Homophobia, a member of boards of several foundations and associations.