LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

January 2021

Trials against LGBTI activists, restrictions on civil society, new judgements on legal gender recognition and hate crime, and much more...

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No. 304. January 2021. In this issue...

ILGA-Europe

COVID-19

Digital rights

Equality and non-discrimination

Family

Freedom of association

Freedom of expression

Hate speech

Hate crime

Health

Housing

Human rights defenders

Legal gender recognition

Notice board

 

ILGA-Europe

New podcast episode on the EU and LGBTI equality in an extraordinary year

In this episode of The Frontline, we look back at the extraordinary year that was 2020, and the engagement of the EU in LGBTI equality issues, exacerbated during the coronavirus crisis. Our Executive and Advocacy Directors, Evelyne Paradis and Katrin Hugendubel look back on what surprisingly turned out to be a successful year for EU engagement. Activists from ILGA-Europe member organisations in Slovenia and Hungary talk about the rise of ultra-right populism in both EU countries, Hungary’s slew of anti- LGBTI laws as the virus raged on, and their respective responses to EU institutional engagement and how it can go forward. Members of the EU Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup, MEP’s Terry Reintke and Maria Walsh give an inside view on the year gone by, and reflect on a challenging first year for the new Intergroup.
Play the episode and subscribe to our podcast on your favorite channel.
Find the previous episodes of The Frontline.
 

Watch short campaign videos created by LGBTI activists - get some tips and inspiration

Despite lockdowns and social distancing, LGBTI activists have to continue communicating and campaigning, and creating our own videos at home has become an ever more important skill. At the end of 2020, ILGA-Europe invited Richard Roaf - director of VideoRev, an expert in helping activists develop low-budget viral campaign videos - to host a video ‘Skills Boost’. Activists learned strategic, creative and technical tips to create great campaign videos at home, with no budget. Many of the participants created their own videos straight away and got extra help from Richard and each other.
Watch here the videos to get some tips and inspiration for making your own.
 

Share your inputs on violence and discrimination against LBTI women in sport

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has been drawing attention to gender-based violence and discrimination for many years. The Assembly is now working on a report titled “The fight for a level playing field – ending discrimination against women in the world of sport”, which will result in a resolution to be adopted by the Assembly in 2021. We, along with EL*C, TGEU, and OII Europe, are working to prepare a short submission on the specific needs and struggles of LBTI women in sports, and are looking for inputs to this submission.
Share your input by Sunday, 31 January.
 

Joint statement marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Every 27th of January, the world pays tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirms the unwavering commitment to counter antisemitism, antigypsyism, racism, and other forms of intolerance that may lead to group-targeted violence. On 27 January International Holocaust Remembrance Day, ERGO Network, ILGA-Europe, Victim Support Europe (VSE) and the European Disability Forum (EDF) launched a joint statement calling on national governments and inter-governmental organisations to ensure the safety of all minorities who are targets for Europe’s extremists.
Read more on the statement.
 

We are looking for a consultant to create the content design and wireframe for new website

The ILGA-Europe (IE) website has been in its current iteration since 2014 and needs a complete content overhaul and redesign, to fit with our current purposes. Our goal is to launch the new IE website in early 2022. To begin the process of redesign, we are seeking a consultant to create content design and wireframe for the new website. Deadline for applications: Sunday, 14 February 2021, 23:59 CET.
 

We are looking for a consultant for organisational learning process on intersectionality

ILGA-Europe is looking for a consultant to identify intersectional practices which work within the realities and limitations of LGBTI organisations and activism, and learn how LGBTI organisations can do intersectional work meaningfully, concretely, and in a sustainable manner. The consultant will also support an evaluation of the impact of ILGA-Europe current approach, with a view to understand persisting challenges we face, and assess how we have taken on doing intersectional work. Deadline for applications is Friday, 12 February 2021, 12:00 (noon) CET.

COVID-19

New report on impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTI community in the Western Balkans

ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey published its report “Understanding the impact of COVID-19 pandemic measures on the LGBTI community in the Western Balkans'', which contains information gathered from LGBTI organisations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia, assessed in May and June 2020. These impacts include the interruption of essential health services by state institutions, organisations increasingly unable to provide essential community services, heightened levels of homelessness, increased incidents of domestic violence, the closure of LGBTI businesses, a significant loss of jobs, and rising mental health problems.
 

‘LGBTI organisations have been largely excluded from COVID-19 humanitarian resources’

The Global Philanthropy Project's new report “Where are the Global COVID-19 Resources for LGBTI Communities?” has been released online. The report is informed by a survey of 24 of the largest philanthropic, government and multilateral donors of global LGBTI issues, who account for just half of all global LGBTI funding, as well as a review of recorded global COVID-19 humanitarian response resource flows in 2020. GPP found that LGBTI organisations are stretched between protecting the rights of their communities in the face of rising conservative attacks and working to improve their access to food, medicines, and shelter.
 

How the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted LGBTI people in Europe and Central Asia

ILGA-Europe Senior Advocacy Officer Akram Kubanychbekov and Senior Policy Officer Cianán Russell sat down with the University of Birmingham's Institute for Research into Superdiversity late last year to talk about the pandemic and its impacts on LGBTI people in Europe and Central Asia. Speakers told that there have been significant impacts of the pandemic on the health, socioeconomic security, and physical security of LGBTI individuals, as well as impacts on the function and funding of LGBTI organisations.

Digital rights

Civil society calls for artificial intelligence red lines in the EU’s proposal

On 12 January, ILGA-Europe joined 60 other civil society organisations demanding for the inclusion of red lines for the most harmful uses of Artificial Intelligence that threaten fundamental human rights in European Digital Rights in the European Digital Rights's open letter to the European Commission. With the European Union’s AI proposal set to launch this quarter, Europe has the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that true innovation can arise only when we can be confident that everyone will be protected from the most harmful, egregious violations of our fundamental rights.

 


Equality and non-discrimination

Inclusion of sex workers in the EP resolution on the EU Strategy for Gender Equality

On 21 January, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the EU Strategy for Gender Equality. In this newly adpoted resolution, the EP ‘urges the Commission to establish a concrete framework for the rights and protection of sex workers during and after a crisis; further insists on the importance of including measures and strategies that tackle the discrimination faced by sex workers in access to funding, housing, healthcare, education and other services’. (Photo: European Union)

Dozens of anti-LGBT groups fundraising on Amazon despite equality pledges

A new journalistic investigation from openDemocracy revealed on 22 December 2020 that dozens of US-based anti-LGBT groups are fundraising on Amazon’s online donations platform, despite the company’s policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation. “Companies, if they really walk the talk, shouldn’t be giving their platform to organisations that are working to limit the rights of other people,” said Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe executive director for openDemocracy.

 


Family

Latvia plans to amend its Constitution to block same-sex partnerships and families

On 14 January, the Latvian Parliament passed a draft law that plans to restrict the definition of family in the Constitution to effectively block same-sex partnerships and same-sex families. This contravenes international human rights law and European jurisprudence, as well as Latvia's Constitution and the decisions of its Court. Latvia is one of only six countries in the EU that provides no recognition of partnership for same-sex couples and while there have been promising developments in the last two years, this vote is a worrying step backwards.

Freedom of association

New legal barriers for civil society in Russia

For Russian LGBTI groups, along with the rest of the civil society in the country, 2021 started with the arrival of new barriers to their work. On 30 December 2020, several amendments to the existing ‘foreign agents’ legislation were signed into law. It includes new restrictions to civil society, such as extending the law on ‘foreign agents’ to individuals and unregistered groups and bringing criminal liability for those failing to comply with this law. The same day, President Putin signed another law and thus amended the current federal laws on public assemblies which regulate fundraising and spending for public events by law.

 

 

PACE resolution calls on European countries to stop applying restrictions on NGO activities

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on 27 January, that urges to “repeal and/or amend legislation that interferes with NGOs’ ability to work freely and independently” and calls on the Committee of Ministers to establish a mechanism to monitor, assess and respond to the new restrictions on civil society. Fourat Ben Chika, General Rapporteur for LGBTI rights in PACE, supported the report saying, “More often than not, the police and relevant officials ignore these incidents [of attacks on LGBTI NGOs] and fail to fulfil their duties, despite the fact that there are both legal and procedural tools in place.”
Read more about the document adopted.

Freedom of expression

Russian LGBT+ activist is charged with the same accusations the fourth time

On 12 January, Russian LGBT+ and feminist activist Yulia Tsvetkova was again charged with ‘distribution of pornography’ in connection with online dissemination of her feminist drawings. This is the fourth time that the Investigative Committee indicted Yulia on these charges. “It's the same case, just the prosecutor’s office does not send the case to court, but returns it for further investigation”, says Yulia’s mother Anna Khodyreva. Having spent almost four months under house arrest, from 23 November 2019 until 16 March 2020, Yulia was put through dozens of interrogations and a psychiatric examination. She is still under gag order and cannot leave her town.

Hate speech

Renew Europe expels MEP over homophobic and transphobic comments

On 20 January, the Renew Europe Group (pro-European political group) expelled MEP Viktor Uspaskich of Lithuania for his homophobic and transphobic speech online, and for his inadequate apology. ILGA-Europe finds it important to see political groups holding their members accountable when they do not respect their core values. (Photo: Genevieve Engel/European Union)
 

BBC Persian is accused of promoting LGBTI-phobic content

The LGBT charity, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said that a recent post on the BBC Persian website used a number of derogatory terms and promoted the Iranian regime's LGBTI-phobic views. The article was later edited with the note from the charity. However in another occasion, a video mocking of Pride events was broadcasted on its TV channel on July 6, 2019, and is still available online, despite protests. On 8 January 2021, The BBC World Service announced that they are investigating the complaint. (Image: BBC)

Hate crime

European Court finds Croatian response to violent homophobic attack fosters impunity for hate crime

A judgement issued on 14 January by the European Court of Human Rights finds that the response of Croatian authorities to a hate crime against a lesbian woman was “particularly destructive of fundamental human rights”. According to ILGA-Europe’s Head of Litigation, Arpi Avetisyan: “The judgment sends a strong signal to the Council of Europe member states to ensure effective investigation, prosecution and punishment of homophobic and transphobic violent crimes”.

Health

Join the Technical Advisory Group on the mental health impacts of COVID-19

The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking experts to serve as members of the Technical Advisory Group on the mental health impacts of COVID-19 in the WHO European Region. ILGA-Europe team encourages LGBTI representation in these experts discussions, thus highly recommending LGBTI experts to apply for this vacancy. To register your interest in being considered for the Technical Advisory Group, please submit the required documents by midday on 31 January.

Housing

European Parliament highlights the need to address LGBTIQ homelessness

On 21 January, the European Parliament adopted a report on decent and affordable access to housing, which highlights the need for the European Commission to take steps to address LGBTIQ homelessness, via data collection and initiatives in the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025. In addition to data collection and initiatives to tackle LGBTIQ homelessness, we call for the European Commission to take steps to ensure that the European Social Fund Plus is inclusive of LGBTIQ people and used to address root causes of homelessness. The resolution also draws a clear line between access to legal gender recognition and access to housing.

Human rights defenders

Poland: All charges against LGBTI rights defenders charged for peaceful activism must be dropped

On 13 January, the trial of three women accused of “offending religious beliefs'' took place in Plock, Poland. The activists face up to two years in prison for disseminating posters of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo symbolic of the LGBTI flag. The trial was postponed for the second time, their next hearing will be on 17 February this year. Six international human rights NGOs, ILGA-Europe, Amnesty International, Campaign Against Homophobia, Freemuse, Front Line Defenders, and Human Rights Watch, are calling for all charges to be dropped, and for the Polish authorities to amend their legislation and bring it in line with international and regional human rights standards.

Meet these LGBTI activists facing trial for their peaceful defence of human rights

In April 2019, three activists distributed posters of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo in the streets of Plock, Poland, and were later accused of “offending religious beliefs”. A month later, in May 2019 in Ankara, Turkey, students and teachers gathered together in the campus of the Middle East Technical University (METU) to celebrate Pride and a criminal case was taken against 19 of them. In November of the same year, in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, a Russian activist and artist was investigated for her body positivity drawings and put under house arrest for four months. All of these LGBTI activists are waiting for a new hearing in their trials. If found guilty, they all could face prison time.

Legal gender recognition

European Court finds that Romania violated human rights because of a lack of proper framework for legal gender recognition

On 19 January, Romania has been found to be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights because its authorities present transgender people with an impossible dilemma. ILGA-Europe and Transgender Europe (TGEU) have welcomed the judgment in the cases of X and Y v Romania, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention, in that Romania lacked a clear and foreseeable legal framework for the legal gender recognition. The Court’s judgment was informed by a third-party intervention submitted jointly by ILGA-Europe and TGEU.

UK NGOs filed an intervention against the judgment on puberty blockers

On 26 January, a group of NGOs in the United Kingdom, namely Stonewall, Endocrine Society, Gendered Intelligence, and Brook, together with The Good Law Project, filed an intervention in the Tavistock's appeal against the Bell judgment affecting trans young people’s access to puberty blockers.

Notice board

ILGA World seeks a Programme Officer for Gender Identity & Expression and Sex Characteristics Programme

ILGA World seeks a Programme Officer to work in the context of its Gender Identity & Expression and Sex Characteristics Programme (GIESC Programme). The role of the Programme Officer will be to cover predominantly sex characteristics and intersex aspects of the GIESC Programme and will require to work closely with intersex communities and organisations across the globe. Deadline for applications is 2 March 2021 (1 PM CET).
Read more and apply.

Community Building internship at TGEU

Transgender Europe (TGEU) is looking for a full time Community Building intern, starting mid-March 2021, for a period of 6 months. Because of the current COVID-19 situation, the position will be fully remote and TGEU will only consider applicants who are already eligible to work in the European Union. Deadline for applications is Monday 15 February 2021, noon Central European Time.
Read more and apply.

New grant opportunity to support digital rights litigation

The Digital Freedom Fund (DFF) launched their revised grantmaking process, continuing the support for strategic litigation to advance digital rights in Europe. Starting this year, they will be providing long-term financial support for litigation projects and work with a system of regular calls for proposals. DFF will accept grant applications for the full month of March, starting on the 1st with a final deadline of 31 March. Another call for proposals will follow later in the year.