Rainbow Europe Map and Index 2022

The 2022 Rainbow Europe Map finds that over the past 12 months a new dynamic has appeared to fill in the gaps that exist around LGBTI rights and push standards, giving governments ground to build upon as democracy in Europe faces exceptional challenges.

This year we observe positive movement on the Rainbow Map and Index, notably:

  • Denmark has jumped seven places to achieve second spot in the 2022 ranking. The reason for Denmark’s jump is that it is taking the lead in filling in anti-discrimination gaps in current legislation, including the equal treatment law, which covers health, education, employment, goods and services, and the penal code to include sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics as aggravating factors in hate crime.
  • More countries are pushing forward for equality by giving due recognition and protection for people’s lived realities. Iceland was awarded points because of its legislative recognition of trans parenthood, among other things, while Germany introduced a ban on intersex genital mutilation and France banned so-called ‘conversion therapy’ based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • After years of being stalled there is positive legislative movement in Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia, countering the narrative that there is an East/West divide on LGBTI rights in Europe, providing governments in these countries with strong opportunities to underpin democracy through adoption and implementation.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news:

  • The United Kingdom has suffered a significant drop in ranking, going from 10th to 14th place, losing points as evidence was brought forward this year that the equality body is not, as set out in its mandate, effectively protecting on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. This comes at a time of widespread political and media anti-trans sentiment, while the British government is not moving on long-promised reforms on gender recognition and banning so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for all.
  • Amid a rise in official anti-LGBTI sentiment in Bulgaria and Romania, both countries are now not far off the lowest ranking in the EU, which currently belongs to Poland. Romania is losing points due to authorities’ obstruction of freedom of assembly by banning and punishing Pride events. Meanwhile, Hungary moved down three places, mainly because its parliament adopted a number of amendments which directly discriminate against LGBTI people, including a ban on the “portrayal and the promotion of gender identity different from sex at birth, the change of sex and homosexuality” for persons under 18.
  • There remains significant gaps in terms of fundamental protection against discrimination and violence in nearly half of the countries. Currently, 20 countries out of 49 still have no protection against hate crime based on sexual orientation, while 28 countries have no protection against violence based on gender identity. 

Executive Summary

Rainbow Europe – ILGA-Europe’s annual benchmarking tool – comprises the Rainbow Map and Index and national recommendations. ILGA-Europe have produced the Rainbow Map and Index since 2009, using it to illustrate the legal and policy situation of LGBTI people in Europe.

The Rainbow Map and Index ranks 49 European countries on their respective legal and policy practices for LGBTI people, from 0-100%.

In order to create our country ranking, ILGA-Europe examine the laws and policies in 49 countries using a set of criteria. From May 2022, the number of individual criteria used has risen to 74, divided between seven thematic categories: equality and non-discrimination; family; hate crime and hate speech; legal gender recognition; intersex bodily integrity; civil society space; and asylum. More information on the list of criteria and their weight on the total score can be found at www.rainbow-europe.org/about 

The 2022 Rainbow Europe also tells the story of an evolving movement. The 14th edition of the Index introduces a brand-new category: “Intersex bodily integrity” and changes in the weight given to different issues it captures. The message is clear: for our movement in Europe, equality and non-discrimination laws, legal gender recognition, bodily integrity, protection from hatred and violence, family rights, and protection of asylum seekers are all interconnected and equally essential for the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBTI people.

Alterations to our criteria make year-on-year comparisons difficult, but certain lessons are clear – countries that are expanding their legislative horizons are moving up in the ranking.

Policymakers, researchers and journalists are able to go ‘behind’ the points and see the original information sources that we base our Map and Index ranking on. This additional layer of information is available through our updated Rainbow Europe web module, www.rainbow-europe.org.

The Rainbow Map and Index presents a picture of what the policy landscape is like currently, while our country-specific recommendations attempt to answer the question “what’s next?” These recommendations are intended to encourage policymakers to address the most pressing legal and policy priorities within the framework of our Rainbow Map and Index. The recommendations were gathered following an online consultation with a wide range of LGBTI organisations in the various countries. As a result, the recommendations are tailored to the needs of activists working on the ground.

For the seventh year in a row, Malta continues to occupy the number one spot on the Rainbow Europe Map, with a score of 92%.

With 74 points, Denmark now occupies second place – this is a rise of seven places, mainly fuelled by the amendments to its hate crime and equal treatment legislations. 

Belgium comes third place with a score of 72%.

The three countries at the other end of the Rainbow Europe scale are Azerbaijan (2%), Turkey (4%), and Armenia (8%), exactly the same as the last two years.

The United Kingdom is the country with the most dramatic drop in its score, losing 11% points in relation to the equality body mandate’s ineffective and non-systematic work on sexual orientation and gender identity and equality action plan not being renewed or implemented.

Portugal has also dropped by 5% points due to the expiration of the government’s action plan.

DenmarkIcelandFranceGreece, and Latvia are the countries with the biggest jump in scores. Iceland amended its children’s law to allow gender-neutral registration for parents, a step that recognises trans parenthood. Iceland also received points in relation to ILGA-Europe’s new category “intersex bodily integrity.” 

France improved its implementation of the equality action plan, passed a ban on conversion therapies, lifted bans on blood donation, and adopted a law on medically assisted insemination. Greece also lifted bans on blood donations and adopted a new equality action plan. Latvia amended its criminal code in a way that the courts apllies it to protect sexual oreintation as an aggravating factor. 



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