LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

June 2019

ILGA-Europe logo with Rainbow Digest logo. The text underneath says 'LGBTI, law' politics' movement'

Pride month 50 years after Stonewall, new legal gender recognition law in Iceland, opportunities, and much more...


Help transform realities for LGBTI communities across Europe and Central Asia. With your support we can do more. Make change happen here.

No. 285. June 2019. In this issue...


Equality and non-discrimination


Freedom of assembly

Freedom of association

Hate crime

Legal gender recognition

Notice board




One in four MEPs committed to work on LGBTI equality in new European Parliament

ILGA-Europe are ready to work with the 215 MEPs from 8 different political groups who signed our ComeOut pledge and thus promised to actively protect and progress the human rights of all LGBTI people in Europe and beyond concretely at EU level. With over 1650 candidate signatures across all EU Member States, ILGA-Europe’s ComeOut campaign showed how much support for LGBTI equality has grown within the EU, and this amidst an increasingly polarised social and political climate at both national and supranational levels.
See who has signed ComeOut Pledge country-by-country.
Read more on our press release.

Join our team as a Communications and Media Officer

ILGA-Europe are looking for a Communications and Media Officer to work with the staff team in Brussels. The post holder will, among other tasks, ensure ILGA-Europe has strong day-to-day working relationships with key media outlets working on European affairs (in Brussels and at national level) as well as with more specialised LGBTI media; lead in organising profiling activities to enhance the visibility of ILGA-Europe with European-level media and institutional stakeholders; respond to press enquiries and draft press releases; contribute to expanding ILGA-Europe’s social media profile; develop materials to strengthen the capacity of national LGBTI organisations on strategic communication and to support journalists to work on LGBTI issues. Closing date for receipt of applications: Monday 19 August 2019 (17:00 CET)
Read more and apply.

Consultancy: Strategic communications needs assessment

ILGA-Europe are looking for a consultant or a team of consultants to assess the needs of the LGBTI movement in Europe and Central Asia in the field of communications. The results of the needs assessment will inform ILGA-Europe’s capacity building work and donor funding strategies in the coming years. Candidates are invited to send their applications by 27 July 2019 at 24:00 CEST.
More details on the scope of the consultancy and on how to apply are available here. 

Thank you party-goers!

A huge thank you for everyone who partied for equality at the European Equality Gala 2019, helping to raise much needed funds for the European LGBTI movement. Take a sneak peek at the official photos (more to be published on Facebook later!) and relive the evening’s atmosphere by checking out what guests shared using #EqualityGala2019.
If you missed the party, you can still chip in to the total raised by donating online and entering ‘Gala’ in the comment field.



Sneakers for equality at Axel Arigato

This summer, sneaker brand Axel Arigato is teaming up with ILGA-Europe to celebrate Pride season and support the LGBTIQ community. 15% of all sales at the brand’s London Flagship Store, located in the heart of Soho, will be donated to ILGA-Europe on 6 July.
If you’re in London, don’t miss this one-day-only opportunity to get a cool new pair of sneakers and support LGBTI equality with your purchase.


Equality and non-discrimination

San Marino bans discrimination based on sexual orientation

On 2 June, San Marino held a referendum for whether to include ‘sexual orientation’ as a protected ground on the anti-discrimination bill of the Constitution. The motion passed with 71.46% of votes. The result of the referendum means that article 4 of the San Marino constitution, listing all the specifications on which the principle of equality applies before the law, will now include the clause "without any discrimination on the base of sexual orientation".
Read more.
Visit San Marino country page on

The UN Independent Expert on SOGI issued the report on the country visit to Georgia

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the United Nations Independent Expert on Violence and Discrimination based on SOGI, issued a report on his country visit to Georgia. The findings highlight the gap between a progressive legal, policy and institutional framework and its effective implementation. As a result, systemic hate speech is on the rise, homophobic and transphobic hate crime remains rampant and discrimination is pervasive. Specific recommendations pertain to the adoption of a legal gender recognition framework, data collection on hate crime and discrimination towards LGBTI people in Georgia.
Read the full report including other recommendations.

The mandate of the Independent Expert on SOGI must be renewed

Since 2016, the United Nations Independent Expert on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity has assisted States to better protect people from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Every three years the UN Human Rights Council votes to renew the mandate. A decision by Council Members to renew this mandate would send a clear message that violence and discrimination against people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities cannot be tolerated.
If you are a civil society organisation, join us in asking them to ensure this crucial work continues.

Let’s move towards swift transposition of the EU Work-Life Balance Directive

A coalition of European networks of NGOs, including ILGA-Europe, have written a joint letter to the EPSCO Council to urge the national governments to move towards swift transposition of the EU Work-Life Balance Directive after the 13 June meeting of the EPSCO Council. The Work-Life Balance Directive is an important stepping stone in the consolidation of existing rights and the establishment of new ones for millions of citizens, and as such, it must now be followed up with enforcement and monitoring.
Read the joint letter.



Two new studies on rainbow families in Europe


Freedom of assembly

“Pride as a hopeful resistance”

50 years after the Stonewall riots, Pride is still a place for 'a hopeful resistance' according to the Pride organisers at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. They told us what it means to organise Pride events in the country in recent years despite backlash, political crackdown, and violence.

Pride events have been banned in several cities in Turkey

In the past few weeks, Turkish authorities have banned Pride events in Izmir, Antalya, and Mersin; and Pride march in Istanbul. Those who peacefully gathered in Izmir were violently attacked by the police on 22 June. These are only the most recent provisions of this kind taken by Turkish authorities. On 10 May 2019, the Pride march organised by students at the METU was also violently broken up by police, although in February 2019 a court decision had lifted the blanked ban imposed by the Ankara governorate in 2017 in the context of the state of emergency. ILGA-Europe stand in solidarity with all LGBTI communities in Turkey and with organisers of all Pride marches.

Baltic Pride March for Equality attracted the record number of participants in Vilnius

The Baltic Pride March for Equality took place on 8 June in the capital city of Lithuania, Vilnius with a theme “We Are Family”. Baltic Pride happens in Vilnius once every three years, and this was the fourth time the March for Equality took place there. Together with 10.000 participants, our Executive Director Evelyne Paradis and Fundraising Manager Anna Shepherd were present at the March.

Tbilisi Pride March to be postponed

Tbilisi Pride organisers encountered considerable amount of impediments and pressure to the planned march on the Pride Week between 18-23 June. Despite the march being planned reasonably in advance, the negotiations with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia which lasted until the beginning of June, resulted in no guarantees of protection. In the end Tbilisi Pride had to postpone the march, due to a non-related wave of public unrest, which led to hundreds of people injured after clashes with police. The new date of the event will be announced once the currently charged political environment is alleviated.

Freedom of association

A court in Kazakhstan rules against the registration of a feminist initiative supporting LBQIT

On 27 May, Medeu District Court of Almaty in Kazakhstan has ruled that the decision of the Almaty City Justice was legitimate in denying formal registration of an initiative group Feminita which provides support to LBQIT community. The court has sided with the claims of the Justice Ministry that “Feminita does not maintain the ‘spiritual and moral values of charity’ according to their Statute, and therefore does not comply with the norms of the Kazakh Laws on charity, non-commercial entities and public associations”. Feminita is certain that they are being denied registration because LBQIT is clearly specified in their statute. They will appeal the ruling of the Medeu District Court, but are also realistic that the Kazakh judiciary will not overrule the previous rulings. Feminita stands firm about filing an international appeal once all the national instances are exhausted.
Read more.

Hate crime

A trans woman harassed by the law enforcement in Kyrgyzstan

A trans sex worker activist Lola has been detained by the police on the weekend of 22-23 June without explanation of the reason. She managed to live stream on social media during detention and contacted a local news agency. It is not the first time Lola is being harassed by the police. In fact, there is an ongoing investigation against one of the former law enforcement officers. Lola have reported another incident informing about a call allegedly from a policeman who had contacted her offering to cooperate and reveal the names of her clients. Lola refused to cooperate and posted the phone conversation on Facebook.


Legal gender recognition

New law for legal gender recognition in Iceland

Congratulations to LGBTI activists in Iceland! On 18 June, the Alþingi (Parliament of Iceland) passed a new legal gender recognition law that is based on self-determination and depathologisation! There is still work to do, as the new process will only be open to those over 18 (16-18 year olds have access to LGR with parental permission), and efforts to include the rights to bodily autonomy and physical integrity based on sex characteristics were replaced with the creation of a new committee to propose specific legislation.

Notice board

Last chance to take part in the largest survey about the lives of LGBTI people in Europe

The European Union-wide LGBTI Survey is the largest survey about the lives of LGBTI people in Europe, launched by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. If you live in a European Union Member State, Serbia or North Macedonia, this is your chance to share what it’s like to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex in your country. Because it will send a strong data-driven message about what works and what doesn’t for improving the lives of LGBTI people, and where policies, legislation and implementation need to step up for human rights and equality.
Complete the survey by 7 July in your preferred language.

Let’s talk about our schools

IGLYO, together with 17 national organisations, conduct a European-wide survey about LGBTQI’s experiences at schools. If you are under 24, living in Europe, and are L, G, B, T, Q or I please take 10-15 minutes to tell them about your current or recent experiences of school. All the responses will be used to create a European report on what schools are like for LGBTQI learners’ who are still at school or have recently left.
Learn more about and answer the survey.

Apply for OHCHR's LGBTI Fellowship

The mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is piloting the creation of a new Fellowship programme. In 2019, the 7-month long Fellowship will be open to trans candidates and will be based in Geneva, Switzerland. Upon completion, the experience of the 2019 Fellowship will be assessed and a decision made on the continuation / adaptation of the programme.
Read more about the fellowship programme and apply by 5 July.

New resource on Sex Work Legal Frameworks in Central-Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) published a new briefing paper on Sex Work Legal Frameworks in Central-Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA) on 2 June International Sex Workers’ Rights Day. Countries in the region address sex work in various ways, to a great extent due to different socio-political environments, varying histories of legal approaches to sex work, and the lack of binding international law that guides states in their law-making. Contemporary sex work policies in the region thus present numerous similarities but also striking differences.
Access the briefing and infographics in English and Russian.