LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Protect, Adapt and Rally: The ILGA-Europe three-part plan to support the LGBTI movement through the Covid-19 crisis

"Protect, Adapt, Rally"

The LGBTI movement is strong, deeply connected and has much learning that can help the world at this time. We have the resilience, creativity, and solidarity to strengthen society’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and together create a better world for all of us on the other side.

The human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people must continue to advance, despite this time of unprecedented turbulence for the world, and in particular we must pay attention to people on the intersections in our communities who are particularly affected. With this in mind, the work at ILGA-Europe is adapting and carrying on. We continue to be committed to our members, to the movement, and to the purpose of the work that needs to be done.

This is ILGA-Europe’s plan to support our movement through this crisis :

1. Protect

We are already seeing the impact of the crisis on people who are underprivileged or marginalised. Our first priority is to support LGBTI groups looking after their communities by:

  • Supporting organisations to support and protect LGBTI communities through these times
  • Providing advice and resources on communicating clearly during crisis
  • Role modelling best practice in funder flexibility for groups at financial risk through our regranting
  • Continuing to carry out our important monitoring, documentation and advocacy work to protect LGBTI people in Europe and Central Asia, including specific assessment of the impact and challenges of the pandemic for our members and the community

2. Adapt

Our working principle is to adapt to new working situations and conditions, and to the new needs of the LGBTI community which arise as the Covid-19 crisis continues and beyond. We will support LGBTI groups to adapt to this new and unprecedented situation by:

  • Giving advice on transitioning to remote communication, campaigning and organising
  • Providing advice and resources on effective financial management through the crisis
  • Providing tech support and training on digital tools, online security and privacy
  • Programmatic advice on how to adapt your strategy and activities to the new reality
  • Offering advice on how to change advocacy focus and strategies to adapt to the current situation

3. Rally

When the unimaginable happens, it forces all of us to reimagine how the world could work. We can change the way the world sees LGBTI people, our rights and our place in society. We will first work on protection and adaption – then, in a few weeks from now, we hope to continue our journey with you to…

  • Work on reframing equality in the current context
  • Access funding for emerging needs
  • Strategise for effective online campaigning
  • Find new ways to effectively rally and campaign online
  • Explore and provide new ways for the movement to come together to learn from each other and mutually support
  • Strengthen the intersectional lense in all our advocacy work even more, ensuring we tackle the inequality crisis we are facing and including the most marginalised of our communities


This plan is a living thing and new resources will be added regularly.​

Strand 1: Protect

Assessment report: Impact of COVID-19 crisis on LGBTI communities and organisations

To document specific impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on LGBTI people, communities, and organisations in the countries in the region, ILGA-Europe conducted a rapid assessment survey during the first two weeks of June, and produced a monitoring report. This report is based on inputs from 40 countries in the region, and lists specific impacts and where they took or are taking place, such as which countries have seen barriers to transition-related medical care for trans people, or which countries have seen increased incidents of domestic violence against LGBTI people.

The report includes 8 sections:

  1. Health and access to health
  2. Hate speech by political and religious leaders
  3. Domestic violence
  4. Access to public relief programmes, including housing, food, and subsistence
  5. Access to justice, registration, and other legal processes
  6. Ability of LGBTI organisations to do advocacy and engage with policymakers
  7. Other types of impacts
  8. Good practices

Survey: Impact of COVID-19 crisis on LGBTI communities and organisations

We held a survey among LGBTI organisations and groups on the impact of COVID-19. Information provided by the members and other groups will be used by ILGA-Europe to better understand trends in specific impact and human rights violations and the situation in the given country. Understanding current issues faced by LGBTI people will help ILGA-Europe to develop effective, evidence-based legal and policy and action demands for EU institutions and local governments. We are currently looking into how to best make the information collected available to members, as well as policy-makers and other actors.

Based on the information collected, we will very soon organise thematic webinars to talk about what is happening in the region, to identify the needs and discuss together what policy responses need to look like. More information shortly.

  • Deadline passed.

Briefing Document: The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on LGBTI people

COVID-19 is generating complex challenges and risks and while the virus does not discriminate, it is very clear that it hits marginalised communities in our societies disproportionally hard. In addition, social distancing and other prevention measures, as needed as they are, can have unwanted negative impacts on the lives of marginalised groups. At ILGA-Europe, we are on an ongoing basis assessing the impact and challenges of the pandemic for our members and the community. This briefing document on impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on LGBTI people, includes a compendium of recommendations to policymakers as well as descriptions of specific barriers faced by the community.

Briefing Document: Obligations of States in the Field of Human Rights in the Context of COVID-19

In times of emergency, International and European Human Rights Law enable States to derogate from their obligations and enter a different regime of legality; provided they respect some fundamental principles. The aim of this paper is to set out the strict procedural and substantive rules States must follow when entering a situation of de jure derogation, i.e. officially notifying the international community that they will adopt measures impacting the human rights of their citizens. From a geographical point of view, the paper covers the application of derogatory measures in European and Central Asian States, to which the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights apply.

Briefing Document: Evidence Requirements to Hold States Accountable Through Litigation and Advocacy

Certain areas of States’ positive obligations under human rights law during the Coronavirus outbreak depend on whether the State knew or ought to have known about risks, actions or inactions resulting in human rights violations. It is therefore important to collect sufficient evidence as the violations are taking place to strengthen advocacy activities and for potential future litigation; and to ensure that government bodies are being informed about potential risks and incidents. Documentation is thus a key element of legal accountability. 

Blog: Digital Security: How LGBTI Activists Can Safely Work Online

While the opponents of LGBTI equality might also be overwhelmed with Covid-19 and focus their attention less on LGBTI groups right now, the digital footprints we leave today will still be around for a long time to come, which could make us more vulnerable after the crisis is over. So, now that most of our activities have moved online, how do we stay safe and secure? Here are tools and tips from the ILGA-Europe Programmes & Policy team.

Blog: How to Communicate Clearly as an LGBTI Group

The Covid-19 crisis situation is changing every day, and as an LGBTI organisation you are going to want to keep your audience updated about what specifically matters to them. ILGA-Europe’s strategic communications consultant, Sho Konno, gives his key advice for communicating at this time.

Peer Support Group: Communications During the Covid-19 Crisis

We have created a Facebook group for LGBTI activists in Europe and Central Asia to ask and answer questions about our external communications. Communications could be as large as ‘What kind of messaging should we use in a nation-wide media campaign?’ or it could be as small as ‘How do I set up our Instagram account?’.

ILGA-Europe's strategic communications consultant Sho Konno will be on hand to check the group and answer questions from Monday to Thursday. But the best support is peer support, so this group will work best if you reply to each other’s posts and contribute your own ideas and advice.

Briefing Document: COVID-19 in marginalised groups: challenges, actions and voices

Nobody Left Outside, an EU initiative focused on raising the voices of marginalised and vulnerable populations in their access to health, has published a thorough report mapping the current COVID-19 situation for marginalised populations onto the WHO Health Equity Status Report (HESR). This framework "illustrates that governmental responses aiming to control the pandemic and to protect citizens are not addressing the specific challenges faced by marginalised groups and in some cases may have negative consequences." Targeted advocacy with national and regional WHO offices, as well as with national Ministries of Health, provide great opportunities for using this report.

Strand 2: Adapt

Blog: Top ‘Working at Home’ Tips for LGBTI Activist Organisations

Amid the global outbreak of COVID-19, the fight for the human rights of LGBTI people doesn’t take a break, but how can activists and organisations connect and do their best work from kitchen tables? ILGA-Europe member organisation, All Out, has some answers. Based in home-offices in London, New York, Berlin, Sao Paulo, Milan and more, they’re sharing their top tips for working together virtually and productively across timezones.

Blog: Re-thinking 2020 for Activist Organisations

In every activist organisation, previously solid plans are up in the air as we adapt to a new and never before experienced working landscape. We all have more questions than answers at this moment, and it’s going to take some time before we have all the answers we need. In the meantime, our Programmes Director, Bjorn Van Roozendaal shares some key organisational tips, based on how ILGA-Europe are adapting our work plan for 2020.

Booklet: Tips for Online Management of Financial Resources 

Covid-19 is having far-reaching consequences for LGBTI communities and organisations around the world. While you may currently be focussed on understanding what the immediate future looks like for your organisation and your activities, don’t forget to dedicate some time to thinking through how you are going to continue operating your finances and administration during this turbulent time. The ILGA-Europe Finance and Admin team has gathered some tips on how to stay on top of the practical side of keeping your organisation running during the pandemic.

Survey: How is COVID-19 impacting your organisation's budget?

We are hearing from many groups and organisations about a loss of income, either due to the withdrawal of funders or due to cancellation of Prides and other events, including those generating donations and other income. At ILGA-Europe we strive to support the work of the LGBTI movement in many ways, including by advocating for resources that meet the needs of LGBTI movements and communities. To enable us to have a clear message for institutions and funders, we held a survey on how COVID-19 is having an immediate impact on LGBTI organisations' income. 

  • Deadline passed.

Webinar: LGBTI Community Organising During COVID-19

On Monday, 4 May 2020, we offered an online platform for LGBTI activists across Europe and Central Asia to talk about their realities on how to continue staying in touch with LGBTI communities in light of global lockdown restrictions. During this webinar, we provided some inspiring examples and also talked about some of the challenges that our movement is currently dealing with.

Blogs: Organising LGBTI Prides Online During COVID-19

This year, Pride month will be like no other. The COVID-19 crisis led to Pride events cancellations and to reflect on the meaning and relevance of Pride, which remains as the opportunity of coming together for equality and celebrating our diversity. Many organisations are getting ready for this important month of visibility by organising digital events. 

Blog: Making Online Fundraising Events Work for Your Organisation

As we gear up to bring our annual fundraising event online, ILGA-Europe’s Partnerships Manager, Anna Shepherd gives her top tips for organising online events and bringing supporters on board. Our Gala will go ahead on June 25 as planned, but it will be an online event. We’ll be providing our supporters a virtual space to come together, enjoy some entertainment and inspiring speakers, and contribute to strengthening the European LGBTI movement. There won’t be a cocktail bar or dance floor, but we aim to keep as much as the spirit of the Gala as possible.

Webinar: How can LGBTI organisations reach out to LGBTI communities during COVID-19 crisis?

LGBTI organisations and groups across Europe and Central Asia have experienced different challenges during lockdown. In some countries there were more restrictive measures put in place, in others lockdown was somewhat relaxed. Nevertheless, social distancing has been a universal approach in fighting against COVID-19 globally. LGBTI organisations and activists have exercised various approaches in continuing their activism despite the crisis.

In this episode of our series of community organising webinars, we shared stories of how activists maintained their outreach work during lockdown and social distancing requirements across Europe and Central Asia.

What have we learned through supporting our communities as the crisis continues to persist?

  • Watch the webinar on our Vimeo channel and stay tuned for more. 

Webinar: Organising Online Prides

This year many LGBTI activists are facing the reality of moving Prides from streets to online spaces due to COVID-19 crisis. In this episode of the series of our community organising webinars, ILGA-Europe and the European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA) invited Pride organisers from Kyiv, Sofia, and Dublin to talk about their experiences on online Prides:

  • Lilly Dragoeva, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Ruslana Panukhnyk, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Jed Dowling, Dublin, Ireland

Watch the webinar on our Vimeo channel and stay tuned for more.

Guide: Pro bono legal resources and support

As a result of COVID 19 many organisations face unexpected and complex legal questions around employment and restructuring, contractual rights and force majeure, and implications on human rights in general.  As part of our ‘Protect, Adapt and Rally’ package, ILGA-Europe Litigation Team prepared an overview of leading pro bono service providers and clearing houses that are offering their services to LGBTI organisations in finding solutions to the consequences of COVID 19 at the organisational level and other areas of LGBTI rights affected by the pandemic.  

Strand 3: Rally

Call for funding: “No One Left Behind” Fund

ILGA-Europe launched a fund to support the LGBTI movement’s capacity to effectively address socio-economic inequalities within LGBTI communities at this critical moment. The objective of this Fund is to enable LGBTI groups and organisations in Europe and Central Asia to gain the skills and knowledge, build alliances and relationships, and/or test new types of activities, with a view to developing longer-term responses to underlying causes of social and economic inequalities which increase the vulnerability and marginalisation of LGBTI people, especially in times of crisis.

  • Applications closed. 

Webpage: Funding Opportunities for LGBTI Activists

We have been compiling a list of grants and funding opportunities for LGBTI activists and organisations to tackle the consequences of COVID-19. Also included are ILGA-Europe's own funding streams: Creating Opportunities, which supports LGBTI activists to create campaigns with impact; and support  for LGBTI human rights defenders and activists facing emergency situations in the time of COVID-19 through the Dignity for All programme.