European Convention on Human Rights

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States that are parties to the Convention (blue)
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR, formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. It has been signed by all states that are members of the Council of Europe (a much wider group than the European Union).

The Convention was drafted by a committee chaired by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe and came into force in 1953. It establishes the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Any person who feels his or her rights have been violated under the Convention by one of the states that have signed the Convention can take a case to the Court.

The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporates the Convention into UK law, so that British citizens can ask for the Convention rules to be enforced in British courts, without having to go to the ECtHR.

The ECHR and LGBT rights

The Convention has been a very important factor in securing the human rights of LGBT people. In particular: