LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Europe’s score on LGBTI human rights remains average

2013 was a year of widening contrasts for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in Europe, from marriage equality and legal gender recognition on one hand, to new forms of criminalisation of LGBTI people through the spread of anti-propaganda laws.

Gabi Calleja, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:

“ILGA-Europe’s 2014 edition of its Rainbow Europe package shows that while the human rights of LGBTI people have undoubtedly gained great visibility across Europe, progress in terms of real legal, political and social changes vary considerably from one country to another, in large part depending on levels of societal acceptance, of political leadership and political will, as well as the strength of civil society in a given country.”

Launched to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (17 May), the Rainbow Europe Map reviews the standing of European countries against essential legal benchmarks for LGBTI equality, while the Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of LGBTI People in Europe 2014 provides an analysis of trends and an overview of key political and social developments country-by-country.

The Rainbow Europe Map – the legal situation

Where legal protection of the human rights of LGBTI people is concerned, there is gradual progress in many European countries. However, Europe as a whole is far from guaranteeing full respect of LGBTI people’s human rights.

Indeed, the Rainbow Europe Map 2014 shows that the European average on the measure of legal protection is still very low – only 36%. The average for EU countries (46%) does not even reach the half-way mark. This said, the gaps between European countries remains enormous and ranges between the top score of 82% (UK) and the bottom score of 6% (Russia). Most worryingly, 34 out of 49 European countries (including 14 EU Member States) are below 50% mark.

Paulo Côrte-Real, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:

“We definitely see improvements in several countries which adopt laws and public policies to ensure rights and protections for LGBTI people. But, as our Map clearly shows, there is still huge amount of work to be done before we reach full legal equality across Europe. Too many countries are still below average when it comes to providing the basic legal protection against discrimination and violence.”

Since May 2013, the fastest climbers were Malta (up 22%), and Montenegro (up 20%).

Paulo Côrte-Real, continued: “It is very encouraging to see countries like Malta and Montenegro make such huge progress in the space of one year. It shows that so much is possible when there is political leadership, especially when it is coupled with meaningful engagement of civil society.”

Some of the most significant changes reflected in the 2014 Rainbow Europe Index concern legal gender recognition. European countries are progressively becoming aware of existing gaps in the recognition of the rights of trans people, and as a result, more governments are starting to change their legislations to ensure better legal protection for trans people. But rights and protections for trans and intersex people remains one of the areas in which most progress needs to happen in Europe.

The Annual Review – the social situation
When it comes to the overall political and social situation of LGBTI people, the Annual Review 2014 highlights four main trends in Europe:

  • New forms of criminalisation of LGBTI people are increasing through the spread of anti-propaganda laws and some countries adopting laws and policies to restrict the human rights of LGBTI people (Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Latvia and Ukraine)
  • While there is a growing consensus on marriage equality, Europe also witnesses the emergence of movements against marriage equality (France) and in favour of legal bans to pre-empt future changes of definitions of marriage (Croatia, Slovakia)
  • Homophobic and transphobic violence remains high and is often fuelled and validated by some political and religious authorities; violence against trans people remains particularly of great concern;
  • Discrimination continues to occur virtually in all countries and in all spheres of live of LGBTI people.