Has the European Court of Human Rights said LGBTQ is not a human rights issue?

Member of Parliament for Sagnarigu Constituency, Alhassan Bashir Fuseini also known as A.B.A Fuseini, has said that the European Court of Human Rights has declared that LGBTQ is not a human right, but rather a sexual preference.

He made the claim on JoyNews in reaction to the Finance Ministry’s recommendation to President Nana Akufo-Addo to defer signing the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill, popularly called the Anti-LGBTQ+ bill.  

“The European Court of Human Rights itself says that this LGBTQ is not a human right. It’s a preference; it’s a sexual preference,” the MP said.

Fact-Check Ghana has verified the MP’s claim and presents the facts in this report.

The European Court of Human Rights, also known as the Strasbourg Court, is an international court of the Council of Europe which interprets the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Convention on Human Rights is the first Council of Europe’s convention and is the foundation of all its activities. It was adopted in 1950 and enacted in 1953. The European Court of Human Rights monitors compliance with the Convention across the 46 member states of the Council of Europe. Following exhaustion of all domestic appeals avenues, individuals can lodge complaints of human rights infringements with the Strasbourg Court.

The international court has condemned many European governments for their failure to officially recognise same-sex relationships and marriages. The Strasbourg Court was the first international body in 1981 to rule that laws criminalising sexual orientation violate human rights particularly the right to respect for private and family life in the case of Dudgeon v. the United Kingdom.

The landmark ruling resulted in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, and across Europe, affirming the human rights of millions of people.

The judgment on the case also prompted the UK Parliament to partially decriminalise sexual acts between men in Northern Ireland in 1982. Furthermore, it set a precedent for the decriminalisation of homosexuality across Europe. Subsequently, any law criminalising consensual homosexual behaviour between adults in Council of Europe Member States would be considered a violation of Article 8, the right to respect for private life, under the Human Rights Convention.

The Strasbourg Court has also acknowledged several rights for LGBTQ+ individuals, including the right to legal gender recognition for transgender persons without the need for sterilization surgery or treatment (A.P., Garçon and Nicot v. France, 2017); the right to legal recognition of same-sex relationships (Oliari and Others v. Italy, 2015); access to civil unions for same-sex couples when available to different-sex couples (Vallianatos and Others v. Greece, 2013); non-discrimination regarding second-parent adoption in same-sex relationships (X. and Others v. Austria, 2013); the protection of freedom of assembly (Alekseyev v. Russia, 2010) and freedom of expression (Bayev and Others v. Russia, 2017), especially for vulnerable groups including LGBQT+ persons; and the recognition of homophobic hate speech (Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania, 2020 and Lilliendahl v. Iceland, 2020) and homophobic hate crimes (Identoba and Others v. Georgia, 2015).

From the findings above, Fact-check Ghana did not find any evidence of the European Court of Human Rights stating that LGBTQ+ is an issue of sexual preference and not human rights related. Their rulings on cases bordering on sexuality rather affirm their position to protect the human rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

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