The Council of Europe – Europe’s human rights body, made up of representatives from each of 47 member states – has adopted a landmark resolution on discrimination against transgender people.

The council’s resolution calls on governments to address these issues by adopting quick and transparent gender recognition procedures based on self-identification. It calls for hate crime legislation, analyzing the best interests of transgender children in cases of young people seeking care and recognition, and abolishing humiliating medical requirements such as mental illness diagnoses and invasive, irreversible surgeries, such as sterilization.

All such measures would bring countries’ laws in line with international human rights obligations and allow transgender people to access services on equal footing with their peers.

The resolution is timely as changes to gender recognition procedures gain momentum in countries such as Denmark and Malta. Additionally, age restrictions on gender recognition have been reduced in the Netherlands, and the European Union’s last country to adopt a gender recognition law, Ireland, is moving toward more rights-based legislation.

In its 2013 survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency found that only half of transgender respondents were doing paid work, and one-third of transgender respondents had been threatened with violence in the previous five years.

On 1 April, Malta’s parliament unanimously passed Europe’s most rights-respecting gender recognition law. Speaking at the Council of Europe’s debate on Wednesday, Helena Dalli, Malta’s minister for social dialogue, commented: ‘The adoption of this law generated international interest. But beyond the international acclaim, what fills me with joy is the impact on individual lives of transgender, queer, and intersex people.’