LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

International Human Rights Day – how much is there to celebrate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people?

Tomorrow is the International Human Rights Day when the world is marking the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

During the past year Europe has witnessed many improvements regarding the human rights situation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Almost all 25 member states of the European Union implemented a requirement of the EU Employment Equality Directive and prohibited sexual orientation discrimination in employment. More LGBT people across Europe won discrimination cases in the courts. Spain introduced full equality to same-sex partners in terms of marriage and adoption. Same-sex partners received legal recognition in Andorra, Slovenia, and the UK. There are similar bills being introduced in Croatia, Ireland and Hungary. The first ever national referendum approved same-sex partnership legislation in Switzerland. Belgium is about to grant same-sex partners an entitlement to a joint adoption.

At the same time during the past year Europe witnessed some shocking developments and blatant violations of basic human rights of LGBT people. Municipal authorities in such cities as Bucharest, Chisinau, Poznan, Riga and Warsaw hindered or banned peaceful Pride and Equality Marches. Some Polish politicians openly incited hate campaigns against LGBT people and the country’s equality body has been closed. In Latvia, some politicians compared LGBT people to monkeys and the country is heading towards a ban of same-sex marriage in its constitution. Right-wing politicians and Christian fundamentalists in Poland and Latvia provoked a huge wave of homophobia and intolerance during the summer of 2005.  A gay man was killed in one of London’s parks. A Slovenian member of parliament suggested a compulsory genitalia test to identify the gender of another politician who supported LGBT rights.  A Swedish pastor was allowed by the court to call LGBT people a ‘society’s tumour’. And these are just a few examples of the prejudice and discrimination that LGBT people still to face in Europe.

Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe said:

“Europe has made significant progress in terms of protecting and upholding the human rights of LGBT people and is the world’s leader in this respect. Europe was the first continent to be free of laws which criminalise sexual acts between consenting adults of the same gender. Every year more and more countries in Europe grant legal recognition and protection against discrimination and respect to LGBT people and same-sex partners.

Nevertheless LGBT people in Europe still face violations of their basic human rights. Unfortunately, discrimination, humiliation, prejudice and homophobic hate are still features of life for LGBT people in Europe. We welcome the support of European Institutions in the struggle for equality and the recognition of the human rights of LGBT people.  On this day, we call on the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to continue their work in tackling discrimination and homophobia to ensure Europe is a continent where the human rights of each European are respected and protected.”

For more information please contact

Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) and works for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights and equality at European level.

(2) More information about ILGA-Europe’s work and the situation for LGBT people in various European countries available on our website: