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25th Feb 2017

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European gay rights study finds little to celebrate

  • Ilga-Europe's Rainbow Map for 2014 (Photo: Ilga-Europe)

Malta has jumped upward in an annual ranking on gay rights, but many of Europe’s micro-states lag behind the norm, while Russia actively promotes homophobia.

The 2014 review and colour-coded map of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) rights in Europe points to mixed results in terms of improvements on a political, social, and legal level.

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Published on Tuesday (13 May) by the Brussels-based Ilga-Europe, the EU umbrella organisation for the rights of LGBTI people, the research found incremental improvements last year in most countries and a rollback in others.

“Progress in terms of real legal, political and social changes vary considerably from one country to another, in large part depending on levels of societal acceptance, of political leadership and political will, as well as the strength of civil society in a given country,” said Gabi Calleja, co-chair of Ilga-Europe’s executive board, in a statement.

The NGO monitors events in 49 European countries.

It also ranks states’ legal benchmarks for LGBTI equality on a range of 0 to 100. Scores are based on whether a country’s policies and legal system make specific references to sexual orientation and gender equality.

A critic of gay rights, Russia finds itself at bottom of the scale with six percent, followed closely by Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Monaco.

The French principality, a constitutional monarchy under Prince Albert II, has no legal provisions against discrimination. Monaco’s self-governed city state also has no rules on family rights and does not recognise same sex unions, notes the NGO.

Liechtenstein, a German-speaking principality, also placed near the bottom and below all EU member states with an 18 percent score.

Other countries like Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Latvia and Ukraine, are rolling back rights by spreading anti-propaganda laws and adopting rules and policies to restrict them.

Meanwhile, the outlook among EU member states overall fares better when compared to 2013, but 14 countries still scored below 50 percent.

With 20 percent, both Cyprus and Latvia scored the worst among EU member states, followed by Lithuania and Italy.

The best performing nation overall is the United Kingdom with an 83 percent score, followed by Belgium and Spain.

But Malta climbed 22 points after lawmakers legalised both same-sex unions and joint adoptions by gay couples.

Other member states dropped in the ranking.

Hungary, Finland, Ireland, and Romania each slipped a couple of percentage points.

Romania mulls civil partnership bill

Romania, for its part, is set to discuss a civil partnership bill on Tuesday.

But Florin Buhuceanu at the Bucharest-based pro-gay rights NGO, Accent, told this website in an email the bill will most likely be rejected.

“It is highly unlikely that the civil partnership bill will pass, especially considering that all the committee opinions, both in the Senate and the Chamber of deputies, were negative,” he said.

Romania’s only Green MP in the parliament had proposed the bill last year.

Romanian lawmakers are also in the process of amending the constitution. They want to define marriage as a union between man and a woman.

But the legislative draft amending the Romanian Constitution first needs to be put to a referendum and a date for it has yet to be set, says Buhuceanu.

The family as a legal notion in Romania was already restricted in 2009 to exclude gay couples.

“Both changes came about as a significant lobby on behalf of pro family and pro life organizations,” said Buhuceanu.

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