LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

January 2022

New report on the state of funding, landmark changes in Denmark, France and Greece, and much more...


No. 316. January 2022. In this issue...


Equality and non-discrimination

Freedom of expression


Legal gender recognition

Notice board


Rising challenges for LGBTI organisations in Europe and Central Asia, new report finds

On 11 January, ILGA-Europe published their brand-new report indicating that LGBTI activists are struggling to resource their work amid a number of challenging factors. The report, entitled, “Funding To Meet Changing Realities - LGBTI Organisations on the State of Funding in Europe and Central Asia,” based on survey responses from 300 LGBTI organisations across Europe and Central Asia finds that about one third of LGBTI organisations operate on yearly budgets under 20,000 Euro. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations across the region stepped up to fill the gaps by providing services to LGBTI people that should have been provided by public authorities. Every second LGBTI organisation in the region experiences stress and burnout due to not being able to meet the needs of LGBTI people coming in for help.
Read more about the report on the press release.
Download the report and watch the video of the presentation of the results.

New podcast episode discusses hope and the LGBTI movement

In the newest episode of The Frontline podcast, we looked back at the year that was 2021, and what it meant for the LGBTI movement in Europe. At ILGA-Europe, when the pandemic first kicked in, our motto was ‘the work goes on’, and that work most certainly continued apace throughout 2021, with the growth of a perceived east-west divide in Europe over LGBTI rights, infringement procedures taken by the European Commission against Hungary and Poland because of their anti-LGBTI laws and programs, a sharp rise in the demonisation and isolation of trans people from the women’s movement, and an overall rise in authoritarian regimes seeking to instrumentalise LGBTI lives to limit the rights of others.

Join our next Skills Boost session on making graphics with free tools and no design skills

On 17 February, ILGA-Europe will hold a Skills Boost session on graphic design for LGBTI activists. This online session will cover when and how is graphic design useful to LGBTI activists specifically, basic design principles to get you started, and practical tips for using free tools that have been released or updated recently. At the end of this session participants will be given resources for an assignment to design their own graphic. We will hold a second follow-up session in March where participants will get feedback on their graphic from ILGA-Europe’s experts, and help to ‘premiere’ the graphic publicly.

Equality and non-discrimination

Denmark’s landmark amendment in its non-discrimination laws and Penal Code

On 21 December 2021, the Danish Parliament passed a bill amending the legislation on equal treatment, non-discrimination, and the Penal Code by explicitly mentioning sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics. Only sexual orientation was a protected ground in the labour market before this legal change. The amendments entered into force on 1 January 2022.

PACE adopts groundbreaking reports on the human rights of LGBTI people

On 25 January, The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted two groundbreaking reports: “Rising hate against LGBTI people in Europe'' and “Alleged violations of the rights of LGBTI people in the Southern Caucasus'' which both make a clear statement that LGBTI people within the Council of Europe remain at risk of human rights violations, and States have a responsibility to ensure their full protection. During the debate, Gen. Rapporteur on the rights of LGBTI people Fourat Ben Chikha said “The rising hatred is not an expression of individual prejudice, but the result of sustained and often well-organised attacks which cannot be effectively combated if it is treated purely as an individual phenomenon.”

What is happening since the adoption of the EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy?

Just over a year ago, on 12 November 2020, the European Commission adopted the first ever EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy, committing to be at the forefront of efforts to better protect LGBTIQ people’s rights. But how far has the Commission gone in its implementation so far? With a new briefing paper, ILGA-Europe set out five key points that have become clear in the first year of implementation of the EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy.

Fill out the consultation on equality bodies in the EU

EU citizens and LGBTI organisations can give feedback to the European Commission about the mandates of equality bodies in the EU. Many equality bodies do not address discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), and even where they do, how this is implemented varies across Member States. Your feedback is crucial for making the argument for the inclusion of these grounds. Even if you do not have experience with equality bodies, your feedback is still helpful as it helps build the argumentation.

Freedom of expression

Atlas of Hate activists acquitted from first trial of charges of defamation for their activism

On 29 December 2021, the activists of the Atlas of Hate, an online map launched in 2019 that tracks which Polish municipalities have adopted anti-LGBT resolutions, won their first case of 8 court cases initiated by far-right organisation Ordo Iuris on behalf of local governments, who accuse them of defamation. The number of cases and the charges of defamation for stating factual information of public interest, show that the activists are being targeted with SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation) – a form of legal harassment used by the wealthy and powerful to obstruct activism.

Defendants of Polish “Rainbow Halo” trial acquitted again during appeal hearing

On 12 January, defendants in the “Rainbow Halo” trial in Poland, Ela, Anna and Joanna, were acquitted of charges of “offending religious beliefs” for their posters with the image of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo from 2019. They had faced up to 2 years in prison and they had originally been acquitted on 2 March 2021. This trial was an appeal trial, and the Polish Ministry of Justice has already indicated that they intend to use an extraordinary complaint to appeal again. (Photo credit: Amnesty Polska)

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights condemns Hungary’s decision to hold anti-LGBT referendum

On 13 January, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović published a press release condemning the Hungarian government’s decision to hold a referendum on children’s access to information concerning sexual orientation and gender identity issues on the same day as the national elections – 3 April. She also notes that in December 2021 the Venice Commission deemed the anti-LGBT amendments in the child protection law as incompatible with international human rights norms.

Uzbekistan sentences blogging LGBT supporter to three years

On 21 January, the blogger Miraziz Bazarov was sentenced to three years of restricted freedom for slander in Uzbekistan. Last year in March Bazarov attempted to organise a K-Pop gathering which was labelled by religious groups as a “gay pride march”. A group of aggressive men took to the streets of Tashkent attacking young people who they perceived as LGBT people. Later the same day Bazarov was beaten and had to be hospitalised. Upon rehabilitation he was detained for instigating the riots. Blogger Bazarov became popular for publicly criticising Uzbek authorities for insufficient use of foreign aid when tackling the pandemic. In one of his blogs, he also called for decriminalisation of consensual same-sex relations between men in Uzbekistan. Bloggers in Uzbekistan have long been under strict surveillance and control by the Uzbek authorities. In January the authorities reportedly banned bloggers from covering the unrests in neighbouring Kazakhstan. (Photo credit: Miraziz Bazarov - Facebook)


Greece lifted ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men

As of 10 January, men who have had same-sex sexual relations can donate blood in Greece, following the lifting of a decades-old ban. The Greek Health Minister Thanos Plevris and his deputy, Mina Gaga, signed a ministerial decree creating a new form that prospective blood donors must complete. The new document removes same-sex acts from the list of criteria debarring someone from donating blood. It will come into force upon publication in the Government Gazette.

France will allow everyone to donate blood regardless of their sexual orientation

On 11 January, the French Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced that everyone regardless of their sexual orientation will be able to donate bloods. Jérôme Salomon, France's director-general of health, added that references to sexual orientation will be removed from blood donor forms. France has currently a restriction on gay and bisexual men who had sexual activity within the last year. The new regulation will come into force on 16 March.

Legal gender recognition

Lithuania will ease name change procedures for trans people

On 31 December 2021, Lithuanian Justice Minister Evelina Dobrovolska signed an order allowing trans people to change their names. This means that trans persons may apply for name change via regular civil registry without the need to resort to court proceedings. However, it now prescribes additional imperative requirements of F.64.0 diagnosis as well as the authorisation by the Ministry of Justice. The new regulation will come into force on 2 February 2022.

Notice board

The EL*C has two new vacancies

The EL*C – EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community is recruiting for two new positions: a Finance and Administration Manager and a Media, Journalism and Communications Dykerector. Both of the positions have a 1 year contract (with the possibility of extension) and are remote. The EL*C – EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community is a non-governmental organisation, representing the needs of lesbian, queer, bi and trans women and of lesbian organisations, formally established in 2017 in Vienna, Austria.
Read more and apply before 13 February.

TGEU seeks for an Operations/Grants Officer

TGEU is looking for a full time Operations/Grants Officer who will be working in the Operations team to be responsible for providing administrative, financial, and human resources services in order to ensure effective and accurate operations of the organisation in compliance with German and funder regulations. The position is located in Berlin, Germany. Due to COVID relocation challenges and funding restrictions, preference may be given to applicants who are eligible to work in Germany; however, all are welcome to apply.
Read more and apply before 7 February.

OHCHR is hiring for an Associate Human Rights Expert

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has a vacancy for an Associate Human Rights Expert on the human rights of LGBTI people, gender equality and women’s rights, based in Geneva. Only nationals of these countries are eligible to apply: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Yemen and Zambia.

The European Institute for Gender Equality hires a Communications and Media Officer

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) is organising a call for applications with a view to establishing a reserve list for the post of Communications and Media Officer. Based in Vilnius Lithuania, EIGE is a regulatory agency of the European Union (EU) entrusted with specific objectives envisaged to contribute to, and strengthen the promotion of gender equality. To be considered eligible for selection, an applicant must have the nationality of an EU Member State.

Apply for grants to advance digital rights in Europe

The Digital Freedom Fund (DFF) is currently accepting grant applications to support for strategic litigation to advance digital rights in Europe. DFF provides two types of grant support: Litigation track support for litigation of a case and Pre-litigation research support for activities to prepare for litigation. DFF also welcomes applications for projects that fall outside these general thematic focus areas if they can contribute to advancing the respect for human rights in the digital sphere.