COE Chief: Progress Under Way on Gay Rights

Friday May 16, 2014

The head of Europe's leading human rights body is praising Conchita Wurst's Eurovision victory as a positive sign the freedom of expression is thriving, and that Europeans are "allowed to shock."

Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, spoke with The Associated Press by phone about new initiatives to fight anti-gay discrimination ahead of Saturday's International Day against Homophobia.

Despite Russia's ban on dissemination of "gay propaganda" to minors, Jagland said "the general public is moving in the right direction" on tolerance and nondiscrimination in Europe and "we should not put too much pressure" on countries - some in eastern Europe - that take longer.

He said the 47-nation council plans a new program next month to help countries share experiences and strategies in fighting discrimination.

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