Eastern Europe scores badly on discrimination
17.05.10 @ 09:26
BRUSSELS - While eastern European countries tend to be the least gay-friendly in the EU, the Polish leader of the European Parliament has thrown his weight behind international anti-homophobia day.
A fresh survey by the International Lesbian and Gay Association has said that the predominantly Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian countries of eastern Europe have the worst track record on gay rights.
Ukraine and Russia scored the lowest on the ILGA index, closely followed by Belarus, Moldova and Turkey. In the EU, Cyprus, Latvia and Poland are the least progressive. Belarus police on Saturday (15 May) cemented the country's reputation by violently breaking-up a small, 20-person-strong Slavic Pride march.
At the other end, Sweden is the most liberal. Norway, the Netherlands, Iceland and the UK also scored highly.
The Roman Catholic countries of Belgium, which came second overall, and Spain, which came fourth, were examples of tolerant christian societies. Belgium and Spain are among the handful of EU countries which allow gay marriage and adoption.
The ILGA study was published on Monday to coincide with international anti-homophobia day, which marks the UN's decision, dating back to just 1990, to say that homosexuality is not a form of mental illness.
European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, a Polish protestant, had originally hesitated on taking part in Monday's events, prompting talk among some rights campaigners that he wanted to protect his political capital in Poland.
The president in the end recorded an anti-homophobia video message together with EU justice commissioner Vivianne Reding and is to make a declaration at the opening of the Strasbourg plenary session on Monday criticising anti-gay repression.
"Homophobia is a blatant breach of human dignity that questions fundamental rights, and thus it must be strongly condemned. Let's make sure that the future generations of Europeans grow accustomed to a culture of openness, non-discrimination and tolerance," he said in a press statement on Sunday.
The Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus is the only territory in the EU where homosexuality is against the law. The legislation is rarely enforced, however.
Elsewhere in the world, gay people face the death penalty in Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, the Islamist parts of Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Uganda is also considering bringing in capital punishment for homosexual acts.