Several European countries have “backslided” on laws and policies protecting the equality and human rights of LGBT people, according to a new report.
The 2019 Rainbow Europe Map and Index, which is produced by ILGA-Europe, found that several countries were “moving backwards as existing laws and policies disappeared” – the first time this has happened in the 10-year history of the index.
ILGA-Europe identified Poland, Bulgaria, Serbia and Kosovo as countries where LGBT rights had been reduced over the past year.
Meanwhile governments in Hungary and Turkey had failed to “uphold fundamental civil and political rights such as freedom of assembly, freedom of association and protection of human rights defenders”.
Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe’s executive director, said: “Last year, we warned about the dangers of thinking that the work was done.
“Sadly, this year, we see concrete evidence of rollback at political and legislative levels in a growing number of countries. There is no more time to waste.
“In the current increasingly polarised social and political climate, laws and policies are often the last lines of defence for LGBT communities. That’s why we need national and European decision-makers to redouble efforts to secure equality in law and in practice for LGBT people.”
The Rainbow Map ranks 49 European countries under a variety of categories such as equality and non-discrimination, family laws, hate crime and hate speech, legal gender recognition and asylum.
Malta again came top of the rankings for its LGBT-friendly laws and policies with a 90% score for the fourth consecutive year followed by Belgium (73%) and Luxemburg (70%). The UK ranked joint seventh with a score of 66%.
Azerbaijan was the worst country for LGBT laws with a score of just 3%, followed by Turkey (5%) and Armenia (7%).
Micah Grzywnowicz, co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s executive board, added: “For years, we have said that marriage equality was an important signifier of equality, but not the be-all and end-all for LGBT people.
“What is also crucial for our communities are effective laws to recognise rights of trans people to self-determination, robust protection against LGBT-phobic violence and speech, equal access to reproductive rights, and prohibiting medical intervention on intersex children. Our revised index makes this fact clearer now.”