LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

September 2020

September 2020: Legal complaint on Poland, anti-LGBTI amendments to the Russian Family Code, support activists in Belarus...


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No. 300. September 2020. In this issue...



Equality and non-discrimination


Freedom of assembly



Legal gender recognition

Notice board


Brand-new podcast about LGBTI activism and lives in Europe and Central Asia

ILGA-Europe launched a brand-new project in September: “The Frontline” - a podcast about LGBTI activism and lives in Europe and Central Asia. Deep-diving and analysing from a unique and informed perspective, the podcast aims to bring you to the core of queer activism and give you an understanding on the complexities of what's happening, why it's happening, the wins and the losses, the challenges and commonalities, and the extraordinary ways in which the work of those on the frontlines continues in a rapidly changing world.
Listen and subscribe to our podcast episodes on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud and on more platforms.
Read more about The Frontline podcast.
In the first episode, we delve deep into the situation for LGBTI people in Poland.

Leading pro bono legal resources and support for LGBTI organisations

As a result of COVID 19 many organisations face unexpected and complex legal questions around employment and restructuring, contractual rights and force majeure, and implications on human rights in general. As part of our ‘Protect, Adapt and Rally’ package, ILGA-Europe Litigation Team prepared an overview of leading pro bono service providers and clearing houses that are offering their services to LGBTI organisations in finding solutions to the consequences of COVID 19 at the organisational level and other areas of LGBTI rights affected by the pandemic.
Download here the list of pro-bono legal resources and support.
Find ILGA-Europe’s community resources to support the LGBTI movement through the Covid-19 crisis.

No One Left Behind: A Fund to tackle LGBTI socioeconomic inequalities

Early in June, ILGA-Europe launched the ‘No One Left Behind’ fund, an initiative to tackle persisting socioeconomic inequalities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. We managed to mobilise some new resources and also reallocated some money from our own budget, which was freed up as a result of the pandemic, creating a total fund of about €380,000.
Read on to find out what it is, why we launched it and how we went about awarding 25 grants.


NGOs submitted amicus to the Romanian Constitutional Court

ILGA-Europe have submitted an amicus to the Romanian Constitutional Court, together with ACCEPT, AIRE Centre, Centre for Reproductive Rights, FIDH and TGEU, addressing the potential human rights violations in a law aimed at prohibiting spreading “gender identity theory or opinion” in educational settings, to refer instead to biological sex only. If 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. (Graphic: Accept Romania)
Read more.

Equality and non-discrimination

“Poland is violating the fundamental rights of EU citizens and blatantly disregarding EU treaties and standards”

On 14 September, ILGA-Europe together with Polish LGBT rights organisations KPH and Fundacja Równości submitted a legal complaint to the European Commission about so-called Family Charters and LGBT Free Zones, which over 100 Polish local governments have adopted over the last two years. The complaint sets out how these declarations introduce discrimination against LGBTI people and thus breach the European Council Directive (2000/78/EC), establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights Article 15 on Freedom to choose an occupation and right to engage in work, and Article 21 on non-discrimination.
Read more about the legal complaint to the EC.
On 17 September, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Report on Article 7 Poland.
For a timeline of anti-LGBT hatred in Poland, click here.

Podcast: What’s it like being LGBTI in Poland in 2020?

Poland has been making international headlines for its increasing state driven homophobia and transphobia, but how is the situation experienced on the ground for ordinary LGBTI people? In the first episode of ILGA-Europe’s new podcast, The Frontline, we talk to Polish activist Slava Melnyk, and David Socha, a young gay man living in the city of Pulawy, which was declared one of Poland’s so-called LGBT-Free Zones last year. Stay with us until the end for more. (Photo credit: KPH)
Listen and subscribe to ILGA-Europe’s The Frontline podcast at your favourite podcast site.
Learn more about our brand-new podcast project ‘The Frontline’.

ILGA World released its latest ‘Trans Legal Mapping Report’

On 30 September, ILGA World released its latest ‘Trans Legal Mapping Report’, detailing the impact of laws and policies on trans persons in 143 UN member States across the globe. The third edition of the publication researches provisions which set out how trans and gender-diverse people can change their sex/gender marker and names on official identity documents (legal gender recognition), and also collects information on laws criminalising trans identities, both explicitly and de facto – looking at the situation for our communities in every region of the world.


Proposed anti-LGBTI amendments to the Russian Family Code explained

In July 2020, seven Russian senators introduced three bills to the State Duma, seeking to amend the Russian Family Code. With the purpose of “strengthening the family institute,” if approved, this legislative package would further limit the rights of LGBTI people. Three pages of the package refer specifically to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

#NeverGiveUp: Join our campaign in support of Russian LGBTI activists

ILGA-Europe launched an online campaign to show solidarity with Russian LGBTI activists in support of their tireless work as the government gets ready to introduce the ‘Traditional Values’ bill. Everyone can post their selfie on social media holding a sign saying ‘Never Give Up’ using the hashtag #NeverGiveUp!

Meet 7 LGBTI activists fighting for all families and human rights in Russia

In the face of such seemingly insurmountable odds due to the proposed amendments to the Russian Family Code, what does it mean to be an LGBTI activist in Russia? We met seven strong Russian LGBTI activists who will never give up the fight for freedom and equality for all.

Third Party Intervention on recognition of same-sex unions before the ECtHR

On 15 September, ILGA-Europe together with FIDH, NELFA and ECSOL submitted a third party intervention before the ECtHR in the case of Buhuceanu & Ciobotaru v Romania concerning recognition of same-sex partnership legislation in Romania. The third party intervention shows the developments and growing number of States putting in place legislation permitting same-sex couples to register their relationships and urging the ECtHR to its reasoning in Oliari & Others v Italy to all Council of Europe member states.

Freedom of assembly

Odesa Pride attacked by Ukrainian nationalist group 'Tradition and Order'

On 30 August, Odesa Pride tried to hold a peaceful gathering on one of the central streets of Odesa, Ukraine. Despite the fact that the group Tradition and Order were issuing threats before the event and came prepared to the gathering, where they acted violently, the authorities failed to prevent the attacks and ensure the freedom of assembly of the Odesa Pride participants. ILGA-Europe calls on the EU and Council of Europe to hold the Ukrainian authorities accountable to the human rights obligations they have committed to as part of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and member of the Council of Europe. (Photo credit:

ILGA-Europe call on international institutions and organisations to extend support to all activists in Belarus

The LGBTI movement and community have been taking an active part in the civic uprising in Belarus. Activists that ILGA-Europe are in touch with have reported cases of sexual violence from the police against people perceived to be queer. In some cases people’s sexual orientation and gender identity were revealed through searching in the phones of detained protesters. Many LGBTI protestors suffer additional stigmatisation from some of the other protesters, and also in their own homes from their families. Some of those who have protested now have no place to seek support and recover. (Photo credit: AP)



Webinar focusing on COVID-19 in marginalised communities

On Friday 16 October, the Nobody Left Outside initiative will organise a webinar “COVID-19 in Marginalised Groups – Challenges, actions and voices” to conclude NLO Week 2020 – a week of online activities focusing on the unmet healthcare needs of marginalised communities. ILGA-Europe Senior Policy Officer, Cianán Russell will be on the panel at the webinar.


Cyndi Lauper shows her true colors on LGBTIQ youth homelessness: “Knowledge is power!”

“We need your help to change the lives of LGBTIQ homeless young people,” says superstar Cyndi Lauper in an exclusive interview about how her organisation, True Colors United, has been teaming up with ILGA-Europe to tackle the unacceptable problem of LGBTIQ youth homelessness in Europe, and the first step is to get the real picture from LGBTIQ organisations on their experiences in dealing with the issue.


Legal gender recognition

Disappointing announcement on the Gender Recognition Act in the UK

On 22 September, after a years-long process of consultation, the United Kingdom released plans for the Gender Recognition Act and announced plans to cut costs and to move services online. There have been no changes made to harmful requirements. In 2015, the UK topped the Rainbow Europe Map in first place, with the most human rights compliant landscape for LGBTI people; it has since fallen behind and now in 2020 sits tied for 7th place. Being a “leader” in LGBTI rights in Europe means moving toward self-determination based legal gender recognition, as it has been the case in Malta, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Iceland, and Norway. ILGA-Europe urge the UK to hold up its commitments to the fundamental rights of trans people.
Read here the official announcement from the UK government.
Read here the reaction from the Mermaids UK.
More information about the situation of human rights of LGBTI people in the UK.

Tribunal finds that ‘gender reassignment’ includes gender fluid and non-binary people

On 14 September, an employment tribunal in the United Kingdom released a judgement with the interpretation of the EU protected ground of "gender reassignment" as inclusive of gender-fluid and non-binary people. This decision modernises interpretation of this ground. In the ruling, the employment judge found in favour of an engineer who was “subjected to insults and abusive jokes at work” and had their restroom access restricted. (Photo credit: Pride in London)
Read here the judgement.


Legal gender recognition

Applications are open for the European Artificial Intelligence Fund

The call for the European Artificial Intelligence Fund aims to strengthen, support and build the ability of civil society organisations in Europe to effectively shape and influence public and policy debates in Europe around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automated Decision Making (ADM). The Fund welcomes applications from: organisations that have previously worked on AI/ADM and want to build their capacity in advocacy and policy; and those work is affected by AI/ADM and who want to build capacity in this domain.
Read more and apply by 1 November 2020.

Gender Equality Index 2020 will be revealed in October

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) will reveal the new scores for the Gender Equality Index 2020 and show trends over time during an online event on 29 October. Decision-makers and experts will discuss the findings of the Gender Equality Index and areas for improvement, especially around decision-making. The conference will also explore this year’s special focus of the Index - digitalisation in the world of work and the consequences for gender equality.
Watch the conference online.

Two job vacancies at the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group

UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) is recruiting an LGBTQI+ Asylum Seeker Support Worker (fixed term) and a Team Assistant. Both roles are open to full or part-time candidates. Closing date for both roles is 9.30 am on 8 October. Candidates must have the right to work in the UK.
Read more and apply.