LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

April 2020

No. 295. April 2020: Attacks against trans rights in Hungary, hate speech in Turkey, COVID-19, court wins, and much more...


No. 295. April 2020. In this issue...





Freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

Hate speech


Legal gender recognition

Notice board


Protect, Adapt and Rally: Our three-part plan to support the LGBTI movement through the COVID-19 crisis

The COVID-19 crisis is generating complex challenges for the day-to-day work of LGBTI activist organisations, while it has become clear the global reaction to the virus is hitting marginalised communities disproportionally hard. ILGA-Europe’s three part plan ‘Protect, Adapt and Rally’ seeks to help LGBTI organisations in Europe and Central Asia navigate and adapt to a constantly changing landscape, and work towards the time when the immediate crisis has passed.
Read more about the plan and community resources.

“We are announcing with a heavy heart the cancellation of 2020 Annual Conference”

After thoughtful consideration, the ILGA-Europe board made the difficult decision of the cancellation of ILGA-Europe’s 2020 Annual Conference, as countries across the world take unprecedented measures to slow down the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the coming weeks and months, the ILGA-Europe staff and board will work on alternative ways for our membership to come together.
“The team will take on the challenge to explore alternative ways to serve the important goals traditionally met by the conference, and further ways for the movement to come together this year to learn from each other and mutually support. We will dedicate a portion of our time in the coming months to learning and enhancing our capabilities to create new platforms for sharing good practices and organising online spaces for the movement to connect.”
Read more about the cancellation of our Annual Conference.

Register for the interactive webinar on LGBTI community organising

As part of our three-part plan (Protect, Adapt and Rally) to support the LGBTI movement through the COVID-19 crisis, we are offering a webinar for LGBTI activists across Europe and Central Asia to talk about their realities on how to continue staying in touch with LGBTI communities in light of global lockdown restrictions. We will be joined by Anastasia Danilova - GenderDoc Moldova,Dinah Bons - TransEurope United, the Netherlands, Luca Istodor - Accept Romania, and Elena Petrovska - Coalition Margins, North Macedonia.
Register for our webinar that will take place on Monday, 4 May 2020 at 12:00 CEST.
Access all LGBTI community resources on our webpage.

Tips on how to communicate clearly as an LGBTI group


Guidebook on online financial management for LGBTI organisations

ILGA-Europe are adapting and finding new ways to continue our work using online platforms and resources. ILGA-Europe’s Finance and Administration team have brought together a really great resource for online financial management, from e-timesheets to digital signatures, throughout this time of lockdown. They share their top tips as well, such as limiting your cash operations and informing funders.
Click here to download the booklet.
Click here to read our finance team’s blog with 10 simplified tips.
Access all LGBTI community resources on our webpage.

How LGBTI activists can safely work online

While the opponents of LGBTI equality might also be overwhelmed with COVID-19 and focus their attention less on LGBTI groups right now, the digital footprints we leave today will still be around for a long time to come, which could make us more vulnerable after the crisis is over. So, now that most of our activities have moved online, how do we stay safe and secure? The ILGA-Europe Programmes & Policy team listed tools and tips for you.
Click here to read more from our Medium blog.

Help us better understand our donors

The 2020 Global Trends in Giving Survey aims to gain a better understanding of how individuals worldwide prefer to give and engage with their favourite causes and charitable organisations. Data will help non-profits better understand if they are using technology and communicating in ways that their donors prefer and where they need to improve. Produced by Nonprofit Tech for Good, the simple survey takes just 5-10 minutes and is available in seven languages. If you’ve donated to any non-profit in the last 12 months, please take the survey. You can also help out by spreading the word to make sure the survey captures as much data as possible on donors to LGBTI causes.
Find the survey here.


Open letter to President Ursula von der Leyen: keeping equality for all at the core amid the COVID-19 crisis

On 20 April ILGA-Europe's Executive Director, Evelyne Paradis sent an open letter to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to prioritise minority and human rights. "The response to Covid-19 is bringing so many vulnerable people in our society into focus, and we cannot look away. As the European Commission is revising and re-prioritising its 2020 work programme, ILGA-Europe is urging you and the college of Commissioners to keep equality for all at the core of its policies" said Paradis.

‘COVID-19 shines a red light on sex workers’ lack of protection’

ILGA-Europe joined the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) and 16 other international and 154 national organisations for a call for action and policy demands for sex workers. “Our organisations are calling governments and institutions to develop and implement policies to include and protect all sex workers in this crisis and the disastrous aftermath which will follow.”
Read the full statement and policy demands.
Call for action was endorsed by more than 170 organisations.

Pride in the time of COVID-19

“Every Pride changes lives (…) And it’s that impact, that opportunity to create love and solidarity, which will sustain the Pride movement through this year and beyond COVID-19.” As 300 Pride events, and counting, have been called off across Europe, President of the European Pride Organisers Association, Kristine Garina talks about what this will mean for the LGBTI community, and how we can come together to rise to this critical challenge.
Click here to read more from our Medium blog.

10 great resources for your LGBTI organisation

While some countries begin to plan what the end of social confinement and lockdowns will look like, the struggle to adapt to new ways of working and tackle unforseen challenges, continues for everyone. There are so many resources out there to help it’s hard to know where to begin, so as part of ILGA-Europe’s three-part plan to support the LGBTI movement through the COVID-19 crisis, our staff hand-picked ten of the very best.
Click here to read more from our Medium blog.

Watch back the event "EU and Lesbians: A Critical Time to Connect"

In order to mark the Lesbian Visibility Day, the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI Rights and the Eurocentralasian Lesbian* Community organised an online discussion to talk about lesbian needs in the EU and what responses the EU is providing/should provide under different frameworks and through different institutions. The event brought together MEPs, civil society, national representatives and EC staff.

Tips and ideas on how to plan 17 May

The Committee for 17 May released an online resource for LGBTI activists on how to do community building and campaigning in times of COVID-19. They are currently pulling together ideas and share tips on how to organise activities from home for 17 May. You can also collaborate it by adding you ideas on an online open document. If you plan events around 17 May, let them also know sothey list your event on the website.


The European Court of Justice: ‘Homophobic statement on an Italian radio show constituted discrimination in employment’

On 23 April, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered its judgement in the case of NH v Associazione Avvocatura per i diritti LGBTI – Rete Lenford which concerned homophobic statements made by an attorney who declared publicly during a radio interview in Italy that he would “never hire a homosexual person in his law firm”. The Court decided that such statements constitute discrimination in employment and occupation when they have a non-hypothetical link with the employer’s recruitment policy. Existence of such link is assessed by the national courts based on all the circumstances characterising those statements. In the absence of an identifiable victim, national law may give associations with a legitimate interest standing to bring proceedings and to ask for the discriminatory conduct to be sanctioned in an effective, proportionate and dissuasive manner, including by an award of damages.


First same-sex couples adopt in Finland

The first same-sex couples have successfully adopted children in Finland as reports coming since 20 April. Sateenkaariperheet, the Finnish rainbow families association, confirmed that one male and one female couple, both from Helsinki, had each successfully adopted infants. A change to Finland’s marriage law entered into force in March 2017 making it possible for same-sex couples to marry and adopt. LGBTI activists are now calling on a new parental law, currently under preparation by the Ministry of Justice, to ensure that more than two parents can be legally recognised and that parenthood be entered into the population registry in a gender-neutral way.


Freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

Third-party intervention before the ECtHR in a case about the persecution in Chechnya

On 16 April, ILGA-Europe, together with The AIRE Centre, FIDH, ICJ, and Redress submitted a third-party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in a case. The applicant is a gay man, one of the victims of the large-scale persecution against LGBTI people in Chechnya in 2017. He was arrested and ill-treated in custody by state agents; however, the national authorities refused to open a criminal case into his abduction. The intervention explains how this constitutes a breach of Article 3, in its substantive (ill-treatment amounting to torture) and procedural aspects (failure to prevent, investigate, prosecute, punish and remedy such acts), in conjunction with Article 14 (discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation) of the Convention.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights's ground-breaking ruling addressing torture for the first time

On 12 March, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights delivered a ground-breaking ruling in the case of Azul Rojas Marin v. Peru, addressing for the first time the issue of discriminatory torture. The applicant – who identified as a gay man at the time of the events – was detained and raped by police staff in 2008. The Court found Peru responsible for the torture and sexual violence – which classified as “hate crime” for being motivated purely by the victim’s sexual orientation – and ordered a series of measures to redress the applicant’s damage and to prevent these crimes from repeating. ILGA-Europe had submitted an amicus curiae intervention, developing on the European Court of Human Rights’ approach to discriminatory torture and access to effective remedies.

Independent medico-legal specialists from 23 countries: ‘Conversion therapy is torture’

On 23 April, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) and the Independent Forensics Expert Group (IFEG) released a new statement that labels so-called "conversion therapy" as torture and "unscientific", and calls for an immediate global ban on the practice. The statement, signed by 39 independent medico-legal specialists from 23 countries, notes that children and minors are especially vulnerable, and that survivors of so-called "conversion therapy" often suffer post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.
(Images: IRCT/Paola Paredes Photography)

Hate speech

President of Religious Affairs targets LGBTI+ community and people living with HIV in Turkey

On 24 April, Ali Erbaş, an imam who heads Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate blamed homosexuality and premarital sex for the spread of HIV in the weekly Friday sermon which is sent to all mosques across Turkey every Friday. Following criticism of Erbaş by rights groups and bar associations in Ankara, Izmir, and Diyarbakir, several high level Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, voiced their support for Erbaş’s remarks and condemned the Ankara Bar Association for criticising Erbaş’s speech. The Ankara Bar Association filed a complaint against Erbaş on the grounds that Erbaş’s sermon constituted public provocation to hatred and hostility. In response, the Ankara prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the Bar Association on the grounds of “insulting the religious values adopted by a part of the public” for its statement against Erbaş.


‘Health4LGBTI training course increased professionals’ knowledge on LGBTI health and inequalities’

This month, the Patient Education and Counseling Journal released an article about the Health4LGBTI Project, an EP-funded pilot project to assess health disparities among LGBTI people and produce training materials. The article looks into the assessment of training modules for healthcare providers, and presents compelling evidence that focused LGBTI-specific training has measurable outcomes for delivery of inclusive and sensitive health services to our communities.

Fill in the survey on the impact of the COVID-19 on trans health

The researchers from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (Germany) and the Ghent University Hospital (Belgium) launched a survey for trans people (aged 16 or older) about the consequences of the situation around COVID-19 on physical and mental health. It is now available in Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, English, German, Italian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian.


Legal gender recognition

Hungarian government plans to ban legal gender recognition

On 31 March, Trans Day of Visibility, the Hungarian government released a large bill consisting of many legislative proposals - one of these, Article 33, would make legal gender recognition impossible, massively curtailing the rights of trans and intersex citizens of Hungary. A vote in Parliament is expected in the week of 4 May.
- On 6 April, ILGA-Europe and TGEU released a statement calling on the Hungarian Parliament and the Parliament to drop Article 33 of a legislative omnibus bill.
- On 27 April, ILGA-Europe, OII-Europe, and TGEU sent a joint letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
- On 2 April, 22 Hungarian human rights and LGBT NGOs released a statement.
- On 2 April, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights shared a statement.
- On 14 April, the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences sent a letter to Hungarian government.
- On 20 April, the European Professional Association for Transgender Health (EPATH) and European Society for Sexual Medicine (ESSM), released a statement.
- On 15 April, 63 Members of the European Parliament sent a letter to Hungarian government.
- On 17 April, the Hungarian Psychological Association released a statement.
- On 17 April, the European Parliament passed a resolution.
- On 17 April, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights referred explicitly to the bill as bad practice.
- Transvanilla Association and All Out has collected over 24,000 signatures for a petition against the Article 33.
- You can SUPPORT the #Drop 33 campaign on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.

Notice board

LGBTI Assistance Program “Dignity for All” is seeking a new officer

Freedom House’s Dignity for All: LGBTI Assistance Program is seeking a Senior Program Officer for Learning Initiatives to work with Dignity consortium partners and other community stakeholders to lead safety and security resource creation, sharing, and learning for the benefit of LGBTI human rights defenders, community members, and other stakeholders across all regions in which Dignity works. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until they hire.

People from the LGBTI community are encouraged to apply for FRA’s traineeships

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has opened its 2020 call for trainees. It is offering paid traineeships for 10 months at the Agency’s office in Vienna, Austria, starting on 1 October, 2020. FRA encourages people from the LGBTI community –particularly trans and intersex people- to apply. The calls close on 8 May 2020, at 13:00 (Vienna Local time).
More details about FRA, the units, eligibility and how to apply are all available on the FRA website.