LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

November 2020

First EU LGBTIQ Strategy, trial against Pride activists in Turkey, the European Court's landmark judgment on LGBTI asylum seekers, and much more...


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No. 302. November 2020. In this issue...




Equality and non-discrimination


Freedom of assembly

Hate crime


Legal gender recognition

Notice board

To the top


An evolving movement: What we learned from Europe’s largest LGBTI Gathering

In October 2020, ILGA-Europe celebrated its first Gathering Online. The virtual replacement for ILGA-Europe’s annual conference, The Gathering Online 2020, was the largest coming together of LGBTI activists from across Europe and Central Asia since Covid-19 began, and a new collective agenda became fully apparent. ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director, Evelyne Paradis, reflects on a ground-breaking experience. Read on our blog about the thinking behind it and what comes next.
Read our blog on Medium about the Gathering Online 2020.

Join our webinar on making the business and economic case for LGBTI inclusion

Join an interactive webinar on making the business and economic case for LGBTI inclusion, taking place on 9 December 12-13:30 CET. The webinar will introduce Open For Business’ Central and Eastern Europe Program and recent findings from its research focusing on Hungary, Poland, Romania and Ukraine. We will explore what business arguments work to persuade companies on the importance of LGBTI inclusion, what are the economic arguments that have the biggest impact on policy-makers, and how activists can use the data and frame economic messages to better advocate for LGBTI rights.
Register now.

Watch back our roundtable discussion on domestic violence against LGBTI people

ILGA-Europe, together with MEP Evelyn Regner, organised an online roundtable discussion “Domestic violence against LGBTI people amid COVID-19: Next steps on EU level” and discussed about the situation on the ground with domestic violence against LGBTI and how EU policy-makers, stakeholders and civil society organisations can address it strategically, collaboratively and systematically. We welcomed speakers Enrica Pianaro (Luxemburg), Marta Ramos (Portugal), MEP Frances Fitzgerald, MEP Irene Tolleret, and Irena Moozova from the European Commission.
Read more and watch back the recording of the event.


Landmark judgment by the European Court concerning the deportation of a gay man to The Gambia

On 17 November, the European Court of Human Rights delivered a groundbreaking judgment in the case of B. and C. v Switzerland. For the first time the Court found that deportation of the applicant, a gay man, would give rise to a violation of Article 3 due to failure by the responding State to assess the risks of ill-treatment for a gay person in The Gambia, and the availability of State protection against ill-treatment emanating from non-State actors. ILGA-Europe had intervened in this case together with AIRE Centre, ICJ and ECRE.
Read more on our press release.
Read our third party intervention.

“Specificity of bisexual experience should be taken into account when assessing conditions of extradition”

On 25 November, ILGA-Europe, AIRE Centre, ICJ and UKLGIG submitted a third party intervention in the case of V.D. v Russia before the European Court of Human Rights. The case concerns extradition of the applicant, a bisexual man, to Belarus where he alleges he will face a real risk of ill-treatment in Belarussian detention and penitentiary facilities on account of his sexual orientation. The submission addresses States’ obligation not to extradite a person to a country where substantial grounds have been shown for believing that the person in question would, face a real risk of being subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 (prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment). The specificity of bisexual experience requires that invisibility and underreporting of abuses against this group in particular, in addition to the harms suffered by LGBTI persons in general, be actively taken into account when assessing objective conditions and the risk of exposure to serious harm or discrimination.
Read our third party intervention.


New book published: ‘Bisexuality in Europe: Sexual Citizenship, Romantic Relationships, and Bi+ Identities’

The anthology ‘Bisexuality in Europe: Sexual citizenship, romantic relationships, and bi+ identities’ was published on 2 November. This book, edited by Emiel Maliepaard and Renate Baumgartner, is the first of its kind that brings together state of the art research from Europe on bisexual/plurisexual people. Contributors range from established scholars such as Nikki Hayfield and Christian Klesse to early career researchers as Annukka Lahti and Nicole Braida as well as PhD Candidates Robin Rose Breetveld and Zeynab Peyghambarzadeh. Their various academic backgrounds – e.g. anthropology, geography, psychology and sociology – make it an exciting interdisciplinary exploration of European work on bisexuality/plurisexuality.
Read more about the book.
Download your own copy of the e-book for free.

Equality and non-discrimination

European Union shifts gear with adoption of LGBTIQ Equality Strategy

On 12 November, the European Commission (EC) Vice-President Vera Jourova and Equality Commissioner, Helena Dalli published the Commission’s ‘Union of Equality: LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025’, following President Ursula von der Leyen’s strong commitment to LGBTI rights in her State of the Union speech in September. The publication of a five-year EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy marks a qualitative shift from the EC towards playing its full role to defend and protect LGBTI rights in times of real backlash. According to the Strategy, the European Union “has to be at the forefront of efforts to better protect LGBTIQ people’s rights,” at a time when “discrimination on the grounds of SOGIESC is actually increasing in the EU”. (Photo: European Commission Audiovisual Service)
Read more about the Strategy on our press release.

The EU LGBTIQ Strategy at a glance

ILGA-Europe has been calling for years for an EU LGBTI strategy, so the fact that we will finally have a consolidated approach from the European Commission, setting out coordinated work between different DGs and policy areas, is a significant step. Additionally, the strategy comes at a crucial time when some member states are more and more outspoken against LGBTI rights. We’ve read through it, and here’s an easy-read version.

EU Commission's new Gender Action Plan commits to an intersectional approach

On 25 November the European Commission and EU External Action Service launched the new Gender Action Plan III, for EU external relations. ILGA-Europe welcomes the Action Plan’s commitment to an intersectional approach, and commitment to reading this Action Plan in conjunction with the recently launched LGBTQI Equality Strategy, in order to fully protect the rights of all women, including LBTI women.

New paper on equality bodies working on the rights of trans and intersex persons

On 16 November, the European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet) published their new discussion paper with an insight on challenges faced as well as activities carried out by equality bodies to support trans and intersex persons in the context of discrimination. Following up on this report, ILGA-Europe, TGEU and OII Europe are collaborating with Equinet on a seminar to strengthen the capacity of equality bodies and national activists to work together on the protections of the rights of trans and intersex people, to take place in December 2020.


CoE Commissioner for Human Rights submission in Polish same-sex partnership legislation

On 30 October, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović submitted a third party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in the Polish group of cases concerning the absence of a legal framework for persons of the same-sex either to marry or to have their relationships legally recognised. These cases also raise allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in several sets of civil and administrative proceedings relating, for example, to private donations, tax returns, social benefits, health insurance, inheritance and the failure by the Polish authorities to recognise marriages contracted abroad.

Czech government discriminates against same-sex couples under COVID-19 restrictions

On 30 October, the Czech government adopted Government Decree n. 1113 which lifts the ban on the freedom of movement for the purposes of a wedding but not for the purposes of registration of same-sex partnership. While the only restriction on weddings pertains to number of guests, same-sex couples can only register their partnership in the case of urgency. Since same-sex couples do not have the right to marry in the Czech Republic, this Decree is directly discriminatory.

Hungary cracks down further on LGBTI rights

On 10 November, Hungarian MPs tabled draft bills that would further restrict LGBTI rights in Hungary. One of the bills will make it illegal for same-sex partners, unmarried couples or single people to adopt children. The second bill would amend Hungary’s constitution to add provisions that "the mother is female, the father is male" and that "Hungary protects children's right to their identity in line with their birth sex, and their right to education according to our country's constitutional identity and system of values based on Christian culture." Another bill would see the Hungarian equality body, the Equal Treatment Authority, abolished in 2021. Its responsibilities would be assumed by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, who is a loyal supporter of the government, and very inactive on LGBTI issues.

Latvian Constitutional Court rules in favour of parental leave for same-sex couples

On 12 November, the Latvian Constitutional Court delivered its judgement on the right of a same-sex couple to parental leave, ruling that the state has an obligation to provide equal legal, social and economic protection to all families, including same-sex families, and that the child has a right to grow up in a family environment.

Proposed anti-LGBTI amendments to the Russian Family Code was withdrawn

In Russia, the draft law to amend the Family Code with “traditional family” protections was withdrawn on 16 November by its authors, following sustained criticism from the civil society, lawyers, the Presidential Human Rights Council, and the State Committee on Legislative Activities. Russian LGBTI activists are cautiously optimistic about this withdrawal. While the scope of criticisms of the proposed amendments was impressive, most of the critical opinions focused on anything but the components putting the rights of trans and LGB people at risk. Additionally, the authors of the draft law may still resubmit it for consideration.

Freedom of assembly

Support Pride activists in Turkey in their upcoming trial on 10 December

On 10 December, 19 activists face trial in Ankara, Turkey for their participation in the METU Pride of May 2019. In order to help the activists receive justice, you can join in the social media campaign by posting a video of yourself describing what Pride means to you, using the hashtags #BenimOnurYürüyüşüm (meaning: #MyPride) and #ODTÜRengineKavuşsun (meaning: #BringItsColorsBacktoMETU) and tagging @odtulgbti and @unikuir, before 10 December.

Hate crime

Trans Day of Remembrance 2020: Honoring the 350 lives cut short this year

Every November 20, on Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR), we remember those whose lives have been taken away through transphobic violence. This year’s Trans Murder Monitoring report from Transgender Europe shows the highest number of annual killings since the report was first published 12 years ago. 11 trans people were killed in Europe. (Image: Transgender Europe)


Knowing your HIV status is good for your health and wellbeing

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over half a million people in Europe don’t know they are living with human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. Many of them are still afraid to get tested because of fear of prejudice and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS. LGBTI people who are HIV positive often face a ‘double stigma’, including within their own communities. But if you do know what your status is, one way or the other, you will be making a positive difference to your life.

Registrations open for the International Workshop on HIV and Transgender People 2020

The International Workshop on HIV and Transgender People 2020 will take place on 7-8 December as a virtual conference to gather cross-disciplinary experts in a workshop setting to discuss the medical, clinical, and social challenges faced by transgender people at risk for and living with HIV. Through didactic lectures and the sharing of best practices based on real-life experiences, the event aims to create a scientific platform to discuss opportunities and challenges in the provision of health care for transgender people.

Legal gender recognition

Third party intervention before the European Court for the rights of trans parents

On 11 November, ILGA-Europe, TGEU, and Bundesverband Trans* submitted a third party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of A.H. and Others v Germany. The case concerns the effects of legal gender recognition (LGR) in relation to rules on filiation between a trans parent and their biological child, from the standpoint of the right to respect for family life under Article 8 of the Convention. The intervention details the emergence of a range of family formations involving trans people in a frequently indifferent or restrictive legal environment and looks at the effects of LGR with respect to filiation.

“Intersex people face discrimination due to lack of recognition of their human rights”

On 27 November, ILGA-Europe, OII Europe and C.I.A. (Collectif intersexes et allié-e-s) submit a third party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Y. v France. The concerns the French authorities’ refusal to allow for the current “male” gender marker of the applicant, an intersex person, to be replaced by “neutral” or “intersex” on the birth certificate. The third-party intervention provides international and comparative law examples on recognising gender identity on the basis of self-determination, including by allowing for the recognition of non-binary identities. It documents the violence and discrimination faced by intersex people due to lack of recognition of their human rights and reviews the current obstacles faced by intersex people seeking legal gender recognition, providing guidance on how to overcome them.


Notice board

Activists can join free for the Virtual OutRight Summit

OutRight International’s annual global convening for the human rights of LGBTIQ people, OutSummit, will be taking place virtually on 9-11 December. OutSummit is a space to share insights, challenges and best practices, and to strategize across civil society, state and private sector boundaries for the human rights of LGBTIQ people. The keynote speakers this year will be Hamed Sinno, lead singer of the Lebanese-American indie-rock band Mashrou' Leila, and Filipino American supermodel and trans rights activist Geena Rocero.
Activists join for free, register here now.

Calls for two experts to support LGBTI projects in Albania and Kosovo

ERIM International (previously called IREX) has two consultancy calls for their PRIDE II+ project. The first call seeks for an expert to lead a training workshop and to develop a risk management protocol for LGBTIQ Shelters in Albania and Kosovo. The second call seeks for an advocacy expert to lead a training workshop and to develop an advocacy strategy for 9 LGBTI NGOs in Albania and Kosovo. All interested experts or team of experts are invited to submit their technical and financial offer to ERIM International before 6 December 2020. The calls are open to the citizens of Albania and/or international experts.
Read more and apply.

Grant Writing and Fundraising Specialist is wanted for a queer womxn organisation

ELLA Global Community is a registered charity in Mallorca which works to create greater visibility of all queer womxn - cis women, trans women, femmes, nonbinary people, individuals embracing femininity and those affected by misogyny - of all backgrounds in order to enable them to identify and promote their specific needs. They are looking for a candidate that would be responsible with identifying core-funding grants and preparing the proposals in their entirety and identifying fundraising campaign opportunities and advising our team during the process.
Read more and apply.

European Solidarity Corps volunteering opportunity on HIV&Young project in Sweden

Posithiva Gruppen (PG) is Sweden’s biggest patient organization for people living with HIV and certifying as a host organisation within the EU European Solidarity Corps Programme. You can apply to become a European Solidarity Corps volunteer at PG if you are a person aged 18-30 living with HIV, residing in one of the countries listed on the website, including European countries.
Read more and apply before 15 January 2021.