Legal gender recognition in France and Norway. Civil unions in Italy. A ban on conversion therapy in Malta. These are just some of the major developments that made global headlines in 2016. But these attention-grabbing changes are not happening at the same pace all over Europe. There are clearly risks to progress in countries at both ends of the Rainbow Europe country ranking.
“One of the most common questions ILGA-Europe get asked by national governments is how to improve their ranking on the Rainbow Europe Map – the answer is political backbone. Political leaders need to understand that, if they don’t act now, the LGBTI equality gains we’ve all made together over the past few decades can be rolled back.” remarked ILGA-Europe Executive Director, Evelyne Paradis ahead of the launch.
“At the top of the Map, there is still work to do to make sure LGBTI people can live freely, and at the other end of the ranking, we see LGBTI people are literally living in fear of their lives. Our movement’s work is not over yet…”.
Rollback can start to happen overnight – and politicians across Europe need to wake up to that fact, fast. Some risks are immediately obvious and painful, such as the gross human rights violations in Chechnya – not only for the fear that such actions perpetrate in the local LGBTI community, but also the message of intolerance that this sends to the wider region. Others are not instantly identified as LGBTI-specific scenarios but nonetheless put the achievements of the past decades at risk.