LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

May 2021

Rainbow Map launched, Serbia outlaws discrimination on sex characteristics, Germany bans IGM, and much more... 

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No. 308. May 2021. In this issue...


Rainbow Europe 2021

Bodily integrity


Equality and non-discrimination


Freedom of expression


Notice board

To the top


Help us make sure that barriers to funding the LGBTI movement are taken away

ILGA-Europe have launched a funding needs survey for the movement in Europe and Central Asia. It is aimed at LGBTI organisations both formal and informal, who can share information about the changed landscape of the work in recent times, the urgent needs, and the gaps that currently exist. The goal of ILGA-Europe with the report that comes from this survey is to reach out to current funders, and new ones, to align the LGBTI movement’s priorities with theirs and make the wide range of mostly underfunded work visible. The survey takes just 20 minutes to complete, and should be filled out by only one person per organisation.
Fill out the survey by 20 June.

Join our Gala with special guests from the worlds of sports, arts and entertainment, and diverse activists

Join us at the European Equality Gala Online on June 22, 7pm CEST! Your attendance and optional donation will mean that ILGA-Europe can continue to play our unique role fostering political, social and legal change for a world where every LGBTI person can live and love without fear or restraint.
Read more about the details of the event and register.

Save the date for our Gathering Online 2021 taking place 25 to 29 October

In the absence of our in-person Annual Conference again this year, ILGA-Europe will be organising The Gathering Online 2021, which will take place from Monday 25 to Friday 29 October. In organising The Gathering Online again this year, all at ILGA-Europe are committed to creating an event where activists can come together to get inspired, learn, and feel empowered by working together. Our hope is to form a picture of shared challenges and opportunities currently for our movement and identify ways forward.
Read more about The Gathering Online 2021.

Rainbow Europe 2021

Rainbow Map reveals widespread and almost complete stagnation

Published on Monday, May 17, ILGA-Europe’s annual Rainbow Europe Map and Index, ranking the legal and policy situation of LGBTI people in 49 European countries, finds that over the past 12 months advances in LGBTI rights have come to almost a complete standstill. For the sixth year in a row, Malta continues to occupy the number one spot with a score of 94%. Belgium comes second place for the fourth time with a score of 74%. Luxembourg receives 72 points and occupies the third spot on the ranking for the third year in a row. The three countries at the other end of the scale are Azerbaijan (2%), Turkey (4%), and Armenia (8%), exactly the same as last year.

Time for a reboot on LGBTI rights in Europe

As the 2021 Rainbow Europe Map reveals widespread and almost complete stagnation on human rights of LGBTI people, we are at a juncture when governments can actively choose the right way forward. The past 12 months have marked an unprecedented year in the Map’s 12-year history, with almost no positive legislative change for LGBTI people in Europe. But, with legislative proposals and action plans on the table in some countries, governments now have the opportunity to ensure the Rainbow Map will look very different this time next year.

Listen to the new podcast episode: Mapping LGBTI Rights in Europe

In the newest episode of The Frontline podcast, we are talking about the results of the Rainbow Europe Map. With us to discuss this disturbing stand-still, on both European and national levels, and the ways forward both at European and national levels, are ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director, Evelyne Paradis, our Programmes Director, Bjorn Van Roozendaal, Alexa Moore from Transgender NI in Northern Ireland, and Kaspars Zalitis from Mozaika in Latvia.

Watch back our Instagram interviews with LGBTI activists

ILGA-Europe connected with LGBTI activists in Europe to understand the lived stories of LGBTI people behind laws and policies through a series of interviews in our Instagram channel. On 25 May, ILGA-Europe Advocacy Officer Belinda Dear talked to Julia Kata, Vice President at Trans-fuzja about the latest situation of LGBTI people in Poland, which remains at the bottom of the EU ranking for the second year in a row. On 26 May, ILGA-Europe Senior Policy Officer Cianán B. Russell connected with Masen Davis, Interim Executive Director at TGEU about trans rights in Europe. On 27 May, our Programmes Director Björn van Roozendaal interviewed Dajana Bakić, Executive Director at Tuzla Open Centre, about LGBTI rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans.

Bodily integrity

Germany bans genital mutilation for intersex children

On 7 May, the German Bundesrat adopted the law “For the protection of children with variants of gender development” (19/24686) to protect intersex children from non-vital, non-emergency medical interventions. This is a great first step toward fully protecting the human rights of intersex people, said ILGA-Europe and added: “encourage the German government to continue moving forward to fully secure these rights”. The law came into force on 24 May.

OII Europe presents best practices advancing intersex rights in Europe

On 17 May, OII Europe presented their brand-new Intersex Good Practice Map 2020, which features nine examples of good practices from the areas of policy action, data collection, monitoring, legal gender recognition, campaigning, anti-discrimination, legislation against hate speech/crime and funding training and counseling in relation to the human rights of intersex people in Europe.



EU publishes annual reports on Montenegro and Turkey

On 19 May, the European Parliament adopted its Reports on Montenegro and Turkey. The EP calls out hate speech by government officials in Turkey and state repression against LGBTI+ people and activists. It also calls for action against hate crime and hate speech, and the release of those arbitrarily detained. For Montenegro, the EP calls for among others, full implementation of the same-sex partnership law, collection of hate crime and speech data disaggregated by SOGI, and including needs of LGBTI people in COVID-19 socioeconomic relief measures.

Equality and non-discrimination

Rainbow Index of Churches rates 46 churches throughout Europe and Central Asia

On 4 May, the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups and the Protestant Theological University (The Netherlands) presented their first Rainbow Index of Churches in Europe (RICE), which measures the inclusivity of churches towards LGBTI people. It is the first inclusivity index of its kind, bringing together objective information about the situation of LGBTI people in their churches.

Ground-breaking judgement in a discrimination case in Armenia

On 11 May, ILGA-Europe welcomed a ground-breaking judgement in Yerevan, Armenia, finding discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in a case concerning denial of access to services to three customers (two transgender people and a gay man) of a sports club. For the first time the court applied the Armenian Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law from the European Court of Human Rights on discrimination in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, thus interpreting SOGIESC as being ‘other characteristics’ foreseen in the Constitution. Published in March 2021, the decision sets an important precedent for national case law and is a milestone in ensuring equal rights to accessing services as well as other areas of life for LGBTI people living in Armenia.

Trans Rights Map 2021 documents alarming loss in trans rights

On IDAHOBIT, TGEU launched an interactive version of its Trans Rights Map in English and Russian. TGEU Trans Rights Map illustrates the legal situation of trans rights in 49 countries in Europe and 5 in Central Asia. This year’s Trans Rights Map documents an alarming loss in rights when compared to 2020. While progressive countries in Europe and Central Asia have slowed down in increasing protections for trans people, moderate countries have often stalled progress altogether.

LGBTQ+ organisations in the UK published an open letter for the national equality body to step up

With anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ hate rising in the United Kingdom and across the world, 39 LGBTQ+ organisations released an open letter on 18 May, calling on the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) to step up for LGBTQ+ communities. The signatories urge the EHRC to “engage with LGBTQ+ communities and review how the EHRC can truly play an effective role in making our human rights a reality”.

Sex characteristics has been included as protected ground against discrimination in Serbia

On 27 May, NGO XY Spectrum welcomed the Serbian Parliament’s recent amendments to the anti-discrimination law, which for the first time includes sex characteristics as protected grounds. “This is a huge step for the rights of intersex people in Serbia” said ILGA-Europe in response to the amendments.


Czech Parliament voted for marriage equality

On 29 April, the Czech Parliament finally voted to pass the marriage equality law to the second reading. The proposal moved for a second reading. The legislative process, in addition to the second and third readings, also leads through the Senate and subsequently the signature of the President of the Republic, says NGO Jsme fér.

Croatian Court ruled in favour of same-sex couples’ adoption

On 5 May, a court in Croatia confirmed that same-sex couples are allowed to adopt children. This is a great step forward for family rights in Croatia, where rainbow families are still fighting for full marriage and family equality. Parallel to the legal battle over adopting, the couple has also fought a decision that prevented them from becoming foster parents, for which the Constitutional Court decided in favour of the couple last year.

6 things you didn’t know about rainbow family rights in Europe

Over the last 30 years, legal recognition of rainbow families has hugely advanced, but usually in the face of strong opposition. More recently, rainbow families across Europe are experiencing serious backlash: Poland and Serbia banned fertility treatments for single women, Russia confirmed the ban on same-sex marriage with a constitutional amendment and in Hungary non-married couples do not have access to adoption anymore. To mark 15 May International Day of Families, ILGA-Europe look at the situations and challenges for rainbow families across the region. (Photo credit: Robin Worrall / Unsplash)

Freedom of expression

Yulia Tsvetkova went on hunger strike to demand an open trial and a speedy process

In protest, and after two years under investigation that have been already taken away from Russian LGBT+ and feminist activist Yulia Tsvetkova, she went on hunger strike on 1 May to demand an open trial and a speedy process. An endless delay of the process and its secrecy are taking a toll on Yulia and go against her right to a due process. Yulia decided to stop the strike on 7 May because of health considerations and care for her family and close ones. During the latest hearing on 6 May, the judge denied Yulia’s request to bring in a public defender. After the announcement of charges, the hearing was postponed once again due to absence of prosecution’s witnesses.


New podcast episode on LGBTIQ youth homelessness

In this episode of The Frontline podcast, we are looking at the rising issue of LGBTIQ youth homelessness in Europe. Our guests for this conversation are author of the ILGA-Europe report, Dr Jama Shelton from True Colors United, Policy officer with FEANTSA, Robbie Stakelum, ILGA-Europe’s programmes director, Bjorn Van Roozendaal, and Silvia Magino from Association Quore in Turin, Italy, which has set up a housing project for LGBTIQ people in difficulty.

Notice board

Apply for a scholarship for the Human Rights Forum in Copenhagen

Human rights defenders and activists from all over the globe will gather physically and digitally for the Human Rights Forum in Copenhagen between 17-19 August 2021, which coincides with the WorldPride and EuroGames in Copenhagen and Malmö. The organising team announced to fund a limited number of scholarships for LGBTI+ activists and leaders within LGBTI+ organisations, resident in the European Union. Scholarships will cover flights and accommodation from 15-22 August.
Read more and apply by midday on Monday 14 June.

Apply for a fund on strengthening social and economic resilience

The Recover Better Support Fund is a new fund commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which will support Germany’s partner countries’ efforts to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, while advancing the 2030 Agenda. The deadline for submitting proposals is Sunday, 6 June, 2021, at midnight GMT+2.
Read about eligibility, application, and other details of the fund.

The International Trans Fund is hiring a Deputy Director

The International Trans Fund (ITF) is the only trans-led, global funder focused on safety, dignity and justice for trans people. The organisation aims to increase the capacity of trans movements globally to self-organize and advocate for trans people’s rights, self- determination, and wellbeing. The ITF is looking for a Deputy Director to work in a fast-paced environment where details matter because ultimately, our daily decisions and actions have to serve and meet the needs of trans-led movements across different global contexts.

Registration is open for the global Activist Academy for young LGBTQI activists

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Intersex (LGBTQI) Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) is organising the second global edition of the Activist Academy, where young queer activists can have the chance to learn from professional mentors and grow into becoming well-prepared and confident activists, so that they can go into skill-demanding and leadership roles within LGBTQI organisations. The total time commitment of each participant will be around 30 hours, spread around 2 weeks. It's free to participate and there are prizes to be won for the best performing activists.

The second edition of Global Black Pride to take place on 18 June

Global Black Gay Men Connect (GBGMC), Grindr and the Black LGBTQI community partners, have announced that the second edition of Global Black Pride will take place, Friday 18 June, 2021. This year’s theme is “What About Us”. Global Black Pride is also launching Pride 2021 Artist Fund, an artist fund that will be distributed to artists and speakers participating at this year’s event.

Join the All Out Photo Award with the theme “Resisting, Supporting, Healing”

Inspired by the theme of this year's IDAHOBIT, "Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!", the All Out Photo Award calls on photographers to share photos that capture how LGBT+ people and their communities and allies around the world resist attacks and discrimination, support each other in these difficult times, and heal together. An international jury of queer photographers will select the winners and by submitting your photos you have a chance to receive a cash prize of USD $1,000 and some incredible opportunities, like having your photo displayed on one of the big screens in New York City's Times Square, and exhibited at WorldPride Copenhagen 2021.