LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

February 2016

No. 246. February 2016. In this issue...



Bias motivated speech

Bias motivated violence


Equality and non-discrimination

EU enlargement


Freedom of assembly


Legal gender recognition

Notice board


Destination>>Equality on reconciling sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and RELIGION

Our latest magazine looks into reconciliation of sexual orientation/gender identity/gender expression and religion.  We explore and look at practical suggestions on principles and grounds rules to use in this journey. We also examine conscientious objection which is frequently used by the opponents of LGBTI equality. Faith organisations look at the situation of LGBTI people within their communities and LGBT individuals of faith share their testimonies, including an interview with Krzysztof Charamsa. We also look at the myths used in the debate around religion and LGBTI equality.
Download the magazine here

New publication: Standing up for the human rights of intersex people – how can you help?

The cornerstone of successful advocacy is knowledge. If you want to know how you can work for change, this toolkit will help. It will explain the major challenges intersex people face in different areas of life, set out intersex people’s demands, provide information about current political developments, as well as give advice on how to become a great intersex ally.
Download the toolkit here

Call for two facilitators for a study session in the field of LGBTI community organising

ILGA-Europe is looking for two community organisers and facilitators to be part of a team together with ILGA-Europe Programme and Policy Officer Valeria Santostefano and Patricia Prendiville, former ILGA-Europe Executive Director and Organisational Development Consultant. The two facilitators will have the opportunity to look closely into ILGA-Europe’s work on community organising; to be part of a process to develop collective knowledge and expertise on community organising; to explore the diversity within the European movement and among the many realities in which the movement operates. Deadline for applications: 9 March 2016.
Find more information here

Ukrainian activists raise human rights concerns during Brussels visit

On 17 and 18 February, ILGA-Europe organised a study visit for four LGBTI activists from Ukraine. During the meetings with various EU institutions, the activists shared their analysis of the current political and human rights situation in Ukraine, raised the human rights concerns of LGBTI people in Ukraine and called on the institutions to keep monitoring and raising LGBTI issues with their counterparts in the Ukrainian government.
Read more about the study visit here

Opportunity for consultant with ILGA-Europe on EU enlargement

Due to a vacancy in our team, ILGA-Europe is looking for a consultant who will be responsible for the implementation of key activities in our work on EU enlargement between April and July 2016 (approx. 15 days).  Closing date for receipt of applications: Monday 7 March 2016.
Read more about the opportunity here

Internship opportunity with ILGA-Europe

ILGA-Europe is seeking an intern from Mid-May to Mid-November  to work with the staff team in Brussels. This is a paid internship. Closing date for receipt of applications: Monday 7 March 2016.
Read more about the opportunity here

An update on ILGA-Europe’s newest programme: Creating Opportunities

In 2015, ILGA-Europe started its new programme Creating Opportunities, designed to support organisations that face threats to LGBTI rights in their countries, or significant opportunities to affirm or strengthen them. The programme has supported campaigning and mobilisation activities in Lithuania on legal gender recognition, in Italy on civil partnerships and step-child adoption, and in Slovenia on equal marriage.
Read more and get an overview of the projects supported so far

Call for relevant literature: Attitudes, opinions, beliefs about LGBTI equality in Europe

In September 2015, ILGA-Europe and PIRC (Public Interest Research Centre) started a new project, Reframing LGBTI Equality in Europe.  We want to understand how people in Europe think about LGBTI equality and to adjust our communication accordingly to increase support and mobilisation. Help us by sending surveys, resources, name it - from all over Europe.
Read more about the project and how you can help here

To the top



ILGA-Europe ask Timmermans: where is the EU going on refugees and LGBTI asylum seekers?

On 17 February, ILGA-Europe and other human rights NGOs sat down with Frans Timmermans. On the agenda? The European Commission’s role and plan for the ongoing refugee situation and integration of migrants.
Read more about the meeting here

ILGA-Europe briefing on LGBTI refugees and asylum

On 18 February, ILGA-Europe published a Briefing on LGBTI Refugees and Asylum “Seeking refuge without harassment, detention or return to a ‘safe’ country”. The current political climate in the EU and most of its Member States is one of rejection and fear. But proposed solutions like “safe countries of origin” and “third safe countries” will not provide a durable solution and would put millions of people at risk in EU neighbouring countries. Moreover, they will have a disproportionate negative impact on LGBTI asylum seekers, both in the Member States and outside.

New resource: Practitioners’ Guide on Refugee Status Claims Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The ICJ, International Commission of Jurists, has published a Practitioners’ Guide on Refugee Status Claims Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. As persecution of LGBTI people is rife in all regions of the world and as the application of refugee law on LGBTI asylum seekers remains inconsistent, this guide provides for clear tools to treat LGBTI asylum claims right, respecting the human rights of LGBTI asylum seekers.
Find the guide here

Bias motivated speech


Hate speech during Armenian TV show

During a popular Armenian talk show, the subject homosexuality resulted in inhumane and unprofessional attitudes from a psychologist, sexologist, lawyer and an artist. During the TV show, sexologist talked about “ego-dystonic homosexuality”— a diagnosis no longer recognised — while the artist made homophobic jokes and statements. The psychologist said that she can treat/cure homosexuality, and ensured that she’s experienced in it. Finally a lawyer stated: “Whenever I see them [LGBT people], I will smash them, trample them, and yes – they must be burnt…”.
Read more about the hate speech here
More about Armenia on

Bias motivated violence

Call for applications: Training on Victim’s Rights and Hate Crime Monitoring

Transgender Europe is organising a training on Victim’s Rights and Hate Crime Monitoring, which will take place from 29 April - 1 May in Berlin. Deadline for applications: 13 March.
Read more about the training here

Suspended prison sentence for threatening participants of the Budapest Pride

A member of the Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement, an extreme right wing organisation in Hungary, was sentenced to two years of imprisonment - suspended for three and a half years - for committing a hate crime by insulting and threatening the participants of the Budapest Pride March in 2012 as part of a larger group.
Read more about the suspension here
More about Hungary on

Armenian LGBT activists targeted in hate crime, then mocked by hospital staff

On 15 February, three unidentified persons attacked five LGBT activists in central Yerevan by physically assaulting them. The assailants cursed and began beating one of the activists, and when the victim’s friends rushed to help, they too were subjected to beatings. The attackers mocked the physical appearance of the first victim, and used homophobic slurs. The victims filed a report on the attack with the police shortly afterward. The following day, when the first victim admitted himself to a hospital in Yerevan, he once again faced discrimination, being told by medical professionals, “Come, let’s do a blood test on you. Let’s see if you have a deviance.
Read more about the incidents here
More about Armenia on



Council of Europe pushes for access to school and education for LGBTI children

The Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe adopted a report on Access to school and education for all children. The report mentions expressly LGBTI children: “The Assembly therefore calls on member States to enhance their education systems in order to ensure access to quality education for all and regular class attendance until the end of the study programme. Member States should, in particular: (…) ensure access by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex children to quality education by promoting respect and inclusion of LGBTI persons and the dissemination of objective information about issues concerning sexual orientation and gender identity, and by introducing measures to address homophobic and transphobic bullying”.
Read the report here

New campaign: Et Toi, T’es casé-e

On 1 February, the Belgian equality body launched a campaign against homophobia and transphobia among young people, Et Toi, T’es casé-e (translated: “And you, are you boxed in”). The campaign targets young people and professionals working with young people in educational settings.
Learn more about the campaign here (only in French)

To the top

Equality and non-discrimination


European Parliament gravely concerned over situation LGBTI people in Crimea

On 4 February, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Crimea and the severe restrictions on the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
Read more on the website of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights

Can Faith and Freedom Co-exist?

In October 2015, ILGA-Europe and Catholics for Choice co-organised a forum at the European Parliament, “Religion, Human Rights and a Secular Europe: Can Faith and Freedom Co-exist?” The forum brought together MEPs, journalists and civil society to discuss the rise of intolerant religious groups in European institutions. Panels covered sexual and reproductive health, the rights of LGBTI people, an extreme religious presence in Europe, as well as the freedom of and from religion. Catholics for Choice on behalf of the Global Interfaith and Secular Alliance has produced a new film based on the questions asked and answered at the forum.
Watch the film here

New resource: Out on the Inside - The Rights, Experiences and Needs of LGBT People in Prison

On 2 February, the Irish Penal Reform Trust launched a new report on the rights, needs and experiences of LGBT people in prison in Ireland.
Read more about the report here

New resource: Institutionally blind?

The Foreign Policy Centre has launched a publication with the full title Institutionally blind? International organisations and human rights abuses in the former Soviet Union.  It examines whether some of the major international institutions covering the former Soviet Union are currently meeting their human rights commitments. The publication shows how the independence and integrity of institutions defending human rights in the region are under attack from outside and within, sometimes buckling under the pressure.
Read more about the publication here

EU enlargement


New project: Using EU integration for improvement of LGBT rights in Western Balkans

ILGA-Europe and a number of LGBTI organisations from the Western Balkan have kicked off the project Using EU integration for improvement of LGBT rights in Western Balkans. The project will be implemented by Sarajevo Open Centre, and will be completed in the end of 2017.
Read more about the project here

  To the top



Civil union bill passes Italian Senate – but children in rainbow families get left behind

Switzerland rejects constitutional restriction in “penalty of marriage” vote

On 28 February, the Swiss electorate voted against a popular initiative that would have effectively prevented same-sex couples from getting married in the future. The proposal was rejected by 50.8% of voters.
Read our statement on the result here
More about Switzerland on

Croatia not justified in excluding same-sex couples from family reunification process

On 23 February, the European Court of Human Rights held that there had been a violation of Article 14 (non-discrimination) in conjunction with Article 8 (private and family life) in the case of Pajić v Croatia. It is the first ruling by the Court on family reunification of same-sex couples.
Read ILGA-Europe’s statement on the ruling here

More about Croatia on

Portuguese parliament overturns veto on making joint adoption and second-parent adoption available for same-sex couples

In January the outgoing conservative Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva vetoed a bill granting same-sex couples equal access to the adoption system in one of his last political moves. However on 10 February, the Portuguese parliament voted to overturn the presidential veto by 137 votes to 73. The bill was signed into law on 19 February.
Read more about the overturn of the presidential veto here

More about Portugal on

Bid for an inclusive definition of marriage in Georgia raises concerns among LGBTI activists

A Georgian lawyer filed an appeal to the country’s Constitutional Court against the current definition of marriage in the Civil Code (‘union between a man and a woman’) as unconstitutional. Human rights activists are critical of the appeal as it is not aligned with the main challenges that LGBTI people in Georgia face. Moreover, they express concern that this appeal is an attempt of a provocation that could ultimately lead to a backlash against LGBTI people and those defending their rights.
Read more about the appeal
Read the statement by Georgian LGBTI organisations

Lithuania refuses residency permit to same-sex spouse

On 22 January, the Lithuanian Migration Department refused to issue a temporary residence permit to a Belarusian man, who is married to his Lithuanian same-sex partner in Denmark. The Migration Department’s decision can be appealed within 14 days at Vilnius Regional Administrative Court.
Read more on the website of Lithuanian Gay League

More about Lithuania on

Groundbreaking ruling for same-sex couples by Polish Supreme Court

On 25 February, the Supreme Court in Poland stated that same-sex people who living in de facto unions can be recognised as 'persons closest to each other'. Practically this means that same-sex partners cannot be forced to testify against each other in criminal trials and increases their legal protection. It was also recognised as a big step towards greater equality for same-sex couples in Poland.
Read the reaction from our members Kampania Przeciw Homofobii here

More about Poland on

To the top

Freedom of assembly


European Court to take up mass complaints on violation to freedom to assembly in Russia



Russian Ministry of Health proposes sexologist offices in mental hospitals to address sexual orientation and gender identity

Open letter to Czech Government: stop the persecution and intimidation of people living with HIV

On 19 February, a number of organisations representing European networks of communities of people living with and affected by HIV, doctors and scientists have written to the Prague Public Health Authority. Their letter raises concern about the initiation of a police investigation into the sex lives of 30 men living with HIV. ILGA-Europe are sharing this statement as a member of the EU HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum.
Read the statement in full here
More about Czech Republic on

Coalition for Change Meeting in Riga

AGIHAS – a support group for people living with HIV and AIDS – will be organising a three day meeting from 26 – 29 May, 2016. The meeting is for people living with HIV and AIDS and their supporters from the Baltic Sea Region (Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Poland and Latvia).
Read more about the meeting here

Legal gender recognition


New publication: Rights in Transition - Making Legal Recognition for Transgender People a Global Priority

Human Rights Watch has published an in-depth essay on trans issues around the world covering legal gender recognition, access to education, housing and health care etc.
Read the essay here

Notice board


Petition to protect democracy in Hungary and Europe

A European Citizens’ initiative “Wake Up Europe” launched its online platform for signing its EU-wide petition urging European Institutions to take a firm stand against the authoritarian agenda of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The online platform to collect the 1.000.000 signatures needed to validate the petition will be accessible until November 2016.
Read more and sign the petition here

Mark your calendar: two conferences on bisexual issues

The European Bisexual Research Conference (EuroBiReCon) and the European Bisexual Conference (EuroBiCon) are taking place in Amsterdam on 28-31 July 2016. Extra bonus: the two important conferences on bisexual issues coincide with this year's EuroPride. So many good reasons to go to Amsterdam!
Find more information and how to register here

Internship opportunities with Fundamental Rights Agency

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has published two calls for applications for the FRA internship programme and Roma internship programme 2016-2017. Closing date for applications: 2 March 2016.
Read more about the FRA internship here
Read more about the Roma internship programme here

Funding opportunity with Mama Cash

Looking for funding for work and projects on issues for lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex (LBTI) women, especially for LBTI women from traditionally under-represented groups? New funding cycle from Mama Cash. Letters of Interest from applicants who are not current grantee-partners from can be sent from 1 April to 31 May 2016.
Look for more information here
To the top