LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

IDAHOT 2014: Right to Freedom of expression continues to be violated

At the occasion of IDAHOT 2014, together with LGBTI human rights activists across the world, ILGA-Europe expresses concerns about the ongoing violation of the right to Freedom of Expression.

As our Rainbow Europe 2014 package launched this week shows, violations of this fundamental freedom constitute one of the most notable negative trends in Europe during the last year. This negative trend is epitomised by Russia which adopted ‘anti-propaganda law at federal level and it is spreading fast.

Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said: 
“At the occasion of IDAHOT 2014 we express concern about increased violations of the Freedom of expression of LGBTI people in many European countries by public authorities. This is very worrying trend which not only discriminatory against one particular group of people, but threatens the basic democratic fabric of society.”

In many countries the freedom of expression is increasingly threatened by public authorities, in attempts to limit visibility of LGBTI people and curtail the strengthening of the LGBTI movement. In 2013, this was the case in Moldova which adopted an anti-propaganda law – and then withdrew it after a few months. In Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Latvia and Ukraine draft anti-propaganda bills were proposed or discussed. Even within the borders of the EU, a Russia-like ‘anti-propaganda’ law was used for the first time in Lithuania when adverts for a Pride march were censored on television. In the run-up to the Baltic Pride in Vilnius (Lithuania) in 2013, the city’s mayor used every available legal recourse to stop it from taking place centrally, but eventually failed from banning the Pride taking place in the centre.

EU Guidelines on the Freedom of Expression online-offline

On a positive note, on 12 May 2014, the Council of the European Union, adopted the Guidelines on Freedom of Expression online-offline which compliments to the family of EU Human Rights Guidelines that are used to promote human rights in foreign policy.

Evelyne Paradis continued: “We welcome the adoption of the EU Guidelines of freedom of expression, which is a very timely signal expressing that the EU shares concerns around the increase in violations of the right to Freedom of Expression. We hope that the Guidelines will help to address these violations both inside and outside the EU.”