LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

December 2020

Hungary's further crackdown on LGBTI rights, Switzerland's historic vote on mariage equality and LGR, Turkey's trial postponed against Pride activists...

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No. 303. December 2020. In this issue...




Equality and non-discrimination


Foreign policy

Freedom of assembly, expression and association

Legal gender recognition

Sexual and reproductive rights

Data collection

Notice board


New podcast episode on Bulgaria and the spread of European anti-LGBTI populism

There may not be LGBT-free zones in Bulgaria, but it’s a country with almost no protections for LGBTI people, a growing, so-called ‘anti-gender’ movement, a successful spreading of demonising fake news stories, and an alarming advance in societal rejection of LGBTI people. In the second episode of our Frontline podcast, we delve into the current situation in Bulgaria with LGBTI activists. Rounding the episode up, ILGA-Europe’s Programmes Director, Bjorn Van Roozendaal talks about the wider picture in Europe, the reasons behind the growth of anti-LGBTI politics and movements, and the way the LGBTI movement can strategise to counteract this.
Play the episode and subscribe to our podcast on your favorite channel.


EU action plan on integration and inclusion adopted

On 24 November, The European Commission adopted their Action plan on integration and inclusion which builds on the achievements of the 2016 action plan and goes further by bringing forward new actions and a stronger framework to promote integration and inclusion, focusing on the essentials of successful integration and inclusion into a host society: education and training, employment and skills, health and housing.
Read more about the action plan.


The law prohibiting education about gender identity in Romania found unconstitutional

On 16 December, the Constitutional Court of Romania ruled that the law prohibiting education about sex, gender and gender identity in Romania is unconstitutional. If it were judged constitutional and eventually adopted, this law would exacerbate protection deficiencies already in place in Romania and increase discrimination, stigmatisation and exclusion from Romanian society of transgender and gender diverse individuals. It would also be against freedom of expression and academic freedoms, including right to education.
Read more the Court decision from our member organisation Accept’s reaction.
Read our joint amicus to the Court prior to the decision.

Equality and non-discrimination

ECRI urges the governments in Czech Republic and Slovakia to improve the situation of LGBTI people

On 8 December, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), established by the Council of Europe, published their 6th cycle monitoring reports for Czech Republic and Slovakia. The report on the Czech Republic urges the government to adopt a National Action Plan to improve the situation of LGBTI people, notes the ongoing issues with legal gender recognition, and calls on the government for urgent action to combat LGBTI-phobic hate. The report on Slovakia calls on the government to urgently implement a National Action Plan, and to ban intersex genital mutilation, remove the sterilisation requirement for legal gender recognition, and to include LGBTI-phobic hate in the criminal code.
Read here the report on the Czech Republic.
Read here the report on Slovakia.

LGBTI-phobic discriminatory bill and constitutional amendments are passed in Hungary

On 15 December, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a law that will strip non-married couples of the right to adoption and two constitutional amendments which further restrict the rights of LGBTQ people. ILGA-Europe, Amnesty, and TGEU call upon EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to address the rights of LGBT parents, the attempt to erase gender diverse children, and the ban on legal gender recognition in the Commission’s rule of law assessment and on-going Article 7 TEU proceedings against Hungary.


New book on legal recognition of same-sex families with open access

Social historian Marie Digoix’s new book ‘Same-Sex Families and Legal Recognition in Europe’ has been published as open acces. It concludes and synthesises the LawsAndFamilies project which aims to document, highlight and analyse aspects of legal family formats for same-sex and different-sex couples. This open access book focuses on family diversity from a legal, demographical and sociological perspective.

Foreign policy

EU adopts a global human rights sanctions regime

On 7 December, the Council of the European Union adopted the ‘Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime’ (EUGHRSR) that is a landmark initiative that underscores the EU’s determination to enhance its role in addressing serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide. The main goal of the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime is to enable the EU to stand up in a more tangible and direct way for human rights, one of the fundamental values of the EU and its foreign policy.

Freedom of assembly, expression and association

Turkish court postpones trial of 19 Pride attendees

On 10 December, 18 students and one academic, who were detained, charged and prosecuted for their participation in a peaceful LGBTI Pride march in 2019 at Turkey’s Middle East Technical University (METU), came to trial in front of a court in Ankara. The court postponed the hearing until 30 April 2021. During the hearing, all the defendants gave testimonies explaining how this trial is a cloud over their heads which negatively impacts their everyday lives. The trial has lasted one and a half years so far, and has affected them personally, academically, and professionally. This further postponement means that the defendants will have been under this pressure for almost two years, and they argue that this constitutes a violation of their human rights.

“LGBTI communities are vulnerable in the health crisis”

On 9 December, European Civic Forum published their latest Civic Space Watch report which showcases the challenges civil society faced throughout the year 2020, with a particular focus on how the public measures triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic affected civic space, and how civic actors responded. ILGA-Europe team members Akram Kubanychbekov and Manon Yzermans have contributed to the section which overviews the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTI people and on the LGBTI civic space.

“Poland should stop the stigmatisation of LGBTI people”

The Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović released a memorandum on 3 December, documenting her observations and making recommendations for how Poland can come into line with international human rights law. “Public officials and opinion makers should stop promoting an atmosphere of hate and intolerance vis-à-vis LGBTI people and instead, improve respect for their human rights. Stigmatisation and hate speech carry a real risk of legitimising violence. LGBTI are people, not an ideology”, said Mijatović. (Photo: Council of Europe)


Legal gender recognition

Dutch government apologises and compensates for the forced sterilisation of trans people

On 30 November, the government of the Netherlands took the historic decision that trans people who were forcibly sterilised (between 1985 and 2014) should be paid compensation. This is a worldwide second after Sweden, and it is the result of a long fight by trans activists. The exemplary decision makes clear that sterilisation in legal gender recognition represents a state violation of fundamental human rights.

European Greens adopted a resolution on trans rights

On 6 December, the 32nd Council of the European Green Party concluded with the adoption of key resolutions, including one titled “Trans Rights Here! Trans Rights Now!”, in which the European Green Party commits to strengthen connections with actors working for trans rights in Europe, and support them; support the participation of trans people in politics and amplify the voices of trans people in debates; campaign for legal gender recognition based on self-determination, trans healthcare based on informed consent, and the protections of trans people against discrimination; question gender norms, stereotypes, and the ways these influence systems and structures at all levels of society.



“Forced sterilisation of trans persons; a tortuous practice standing in the way of self-determination”

The Renew Europe, pro-European political group in the European Parliament, organised a webinar on 10 December about the forced sterilisation on trans persons in the EU and the way forward to ensuring self-determination. The event was hosted by MEPs Sophie in 't Veld and Radka Maxová with the participation of the European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli.

Swiss Parliament’s historic votes on marriage equality and legal gender recognition

On 18 December, the Swiss Parliament passed the final votes on bills about marriage for all and legal gender recognition. The Parliament adopted the law on marriage equality allowing same-sex couples to marry and access sperm donations. On another vote on the same day, the law on legal gender recognition was passed making the procedure ‘simplified, quicker, and based on self-determination’, however people under 16 years old will have to obtain parental consent. The opponents have four months to launch a referendum, if they collect at least 50,000 signatures against the law.


Sexual and reproductive rights

Polish de facto ban on abortion puts women’s lives at risk

In a resolution adopted on 26 November with 455 votes to 145 and 71 abstentions, the European Parliament said that the ruling of 22 October by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal to make abortion illegal in cases involving severe and irreversible foetal defects “puts women’s health and lives at risk”, as most legal abortions in the country are performed on those grounds.
Read more.

Data collection

AGE Barometer 2020 is out with a special section on older LGBTI people in Europe

The 2020 version of AGE Barometer is available online. AGE Platform Europe annually assesses the socio-economic situation of older people across the EU and this year they included a special section on older LGBTI people, which ILGA-Europe has given support to draft. The Barometer covers Belgium (Flanders), Cyprus, Czechia, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Slovenia.

ILGA World updates State-Sponsored Homophobia Report: “There’s progress in times of uncertainty”

On 15 December, ILGA World released their updated report ‘State-Sponsored Homophobia’ providing global data on laws that affect people on the basis of their sexual orientation. Together with the Sexual Orientation Laws in the World map, it paints a vivid picture of the progress and setbacks that happened across the world this year. The report says 69 UN member States still criminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults.

Survey shows that intersex people are highly vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic

On 9 December, OII Europe published their report ”COVID-19 - A report on the situation of intersex people in Europe and Central Asia”, which is based on the results of the interex-led survey. According to the report, intersex people are uniquely impacted by the hyper-medicalised circumstances of the pandemic, frequently experiencing triggers of medical trauma while going about everyday life during this crisis - for example due to seeing people in surgical masks on city streets or the increased exposure to institutionalized medicine as a result of COVID-19.

New report on the impact of COVID-19 on Black LGBTQI people globally

On 1 December, Global Black Gay Men Connect (GBGMC) released their inaugural report "The Impact of COVID-19 on Black LGBTQI People Globally” that documents the drastic impact COVID-19 is having on Black LGBTQI communities across the globe. GBGMC offered some specific recommendations on actions that local/national government, the UN, WHO, international donor agencies and the private sector can take to address the drastic impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Black LGBTQI people.

Join the research on image based sexual abuse and its impact on the well-being of LGBTQ individuals

A PhD study that aims to explore LGBTQ individuals’ experiences of Image Based Sexual Abuse (also known as revenge pornography) on their mental health and well-being, is asking for help. The study is also interested in how much health and well-being organisations understand about IBSA and how easy it is for individuals to access services. The research is currently being held by the team in the School of Nursing/ School of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham.

Make your voice heard with the survey on the impact of COVID-19 on lesbian+ individuals and groups

The EL*C (Euro-centralasian Lesbian Community) published a new survey on the impact of COVID-19 on lesbian+ individuals and groups in Europe and Central Asia. The survey aims at assessing the COVID-19 impact in a more structured and analytical way, with a focus on private and professional life, including safety, health, socio-economic impact, and impact on the movement. You can fill it out English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Notice board

Save the date and submit your applications for the ILGA World Conference 2022

Originally planned for November 2021 and postponed due to Covid-19 uncertainty, the ILGA World Conference 2022 will take place from 2 to 6 May 2022 in Los Angeles, CA, United States, hosted by the It Gets Better Project under the theme LGBTIQ Youth: Future Present Change. LGBTI human rights defenders and activists are eligible to apply for a scholarships before 17 January 2021 and submit a session proposals by 10 January 2021.
Read more about the Conference.

Share your abstracts for the LGBTQI+ Workplace Inclusion Conference 2021

The international platform Workplace Pride’s annual LGBTQI+ Workplace Inclusion Conference will take place online between 20-21 May 2021. The event will showcase the state of the art of research on LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion and bring together various stakeholders committed to developing practical and sustainable solutions toward reducing workplace inequalities and increasing LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion. Workplace Pride and co-organiser Leiden University have currently a call for papers for researchers to submit abstract summarising the findings, detailing their relevance to the study of LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion, and indicating their practical implications (if there are any).
Read more and submit your abstract by 11 January 2021.

FRA’s LGBTI survey dataset now available for researchers

The dataset from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) survey is now available for further use by researchers. The research results were published in May 2020. Researchers can carry out their own detailed analysis of the survey results. Academia can also use the data for teaching. Interested researchers can request access to the dataset.

The Digital Freedom Fund is looking for a Racial and Social Justice Lead

The Digital Freedom Fund is looking for a Racial and Social Justice Lead to help with our decolonising process and initiate a new collaborative process to examine racial, social and economic justice in the digital age. Deadline for applications is 3 January 2021 with a preferred start date of February or March 2021. Interviews will take place in the weeks of 11 and 18 January 2021. Valid work permission for Germany is required.
Read more and apply.

Job opportunity at IGLYO as an Administration Officer

IGLYO’s Secretariat in Brussels is looking for an Administration Officer to perform a variety of administrative and clerical tasks. Duties include ensuring efficient day to day running of office systems, supplies and technology, supporting the Finances and Human Resources Manager with invoices and reimbursements, and planning and organising various meetings and events logistics. IGLYO states that they particularly welcome applications from women, trans and non-binary people, individuals from black communities, other communities of colour and ethnic minorities and who are under 30 years old.
To apply, complete the online Application Form by 8 January 2021 23:59 CET.