LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

July 2019

ILGA-Europe logo with Rainbow Digest logo. The text underneath says 'LGBTI, law' politics' movement'

ECHR judgment on freedom of association, equal marriage in Northern Ireland, LGBTI-phobic violence in Poland, first Tbilisi Pride, and much more…


Help transform realities for LGBTI communities across Europe and Central Asia. With your support we can do more. Make change happen here.

No. 286. July 2019. In this issue...


Annual Conference 2019

Equality and non-discrimination


Freedom of assembly

Freedom of association

Freedom of movement

Legal gender recognition

Hate speech

Hate crime

Notice board




Applications are open for the Gathering for D/deaf and disabled LGBTI activists

ILGA-Europe invite you to apply to participate in the Gathering for D/deaf and disabled LGBTI activists in Europe and Central Asia, on 21 – 24 November 2019 in Brussels. At this event, you will meet other D/deaf and disabled LGBTI activists and LGBTI and disability rights activists, share your experiences, understand more of the contexts participants work in, key issues, strategies, existing gaps, needs and resources within D/deaf and disabled LGBTI movements. You will also participate in a joint thinking process regarding potential avenues for movement building at the regional level. The deadline to apply is 26 August at 18.00 CET.
Read the full invitation and download application form here.

Two opportunities to join our team

We are looking for a Communications and Media Officer and a Litigation Fellow to work with the staff team in Brussels. The Communications and Media Officer (1 year full-time contract) will be responsible for ensuring a high profile for the organisation and current issues for LGBTI people with key European stakeholders and for developing content about ILGA-Europe’s work and the European LGBTI movement. The Litigation Fellow (6 months full-time paid fellowship) will undertake research in international and comparative law; assist in preparation drafting of third party interventions or briefing documents; monitor legal developments at national, European and International levels and assist with litigation capacity building activities organised by ILGA-Europe.
Read more about the Communications and Media Officer post and apply before 19 August.
Read more about the Litigation Fellow post and apply before 2 September.

We welcome election of first woman EU Commission President

ILGA-Europe congratulate Ursula von der Leyen on being the first woman ever elected president of the European Commission – a historic step forward for gender equality in Europe. We welcome the strong commitment made by the President-elect in front of the European Parliament on 16 July on ensuring respect of the rule of law across the EU. Given the increasingly polarised social and political climate both across the EU and globally, human rights – in particular the human rights of LGBTI people – are facing a forceful challenge, and a strong positive response to this is indeed much needed.
Read more on our reaction. 

Say Hello to Revolut Donations

This month ILGA-Europe announced a partnership with Revolut, one of Europe's biggest digital banks. Revolut’s new Donations feature allows users to instantly round-up their card payments and donate the difference to ILGA-Europe. Watch YouTube stars share their reasons for supporting the LGBTI movement, and download the Revolut app to join them in contributing through everyday transactions.
Find out more about how to support ILGA-Europe on your Revolut app.



Gaming for equality

Esports team Splyce are committed to promoting inclusion within the gaming community. Competing in the League of Legends European Championships in Berlin, the team switched to a rainbow jersey to show their support for LGBTI equality. They’ve also made the jersey available for fans to buy online, with all proceeds donated to ILGA-Europe.
Get your rainbow jersey online.


Annual Conference 2019

Don’t forget to register before 2 September

The 23rd ILGA-Europe Annual Conference is approaching fast. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Stronger Together’ and it will take place in Prague, Czech Republic from 23-26 October 2019. Participants of our past conferences say that the ILGA-Europe Annual Conference is the most impactful event of the year they take part in. So don’t miss this opportunity and register for the event until Tuesday 3 September (midnight CET).
Register for the Conference.
Read more about the theme of this year's conference.

Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović announced as a speaker

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović will be giving a speech at our Annual Conference in Prague. Dunja Mijatović was elected Commissioner for Human Rights by the Parliamentary Assembly and took up her position on 1 April 2018. She has regularly given lectures in national and international fora and has been awarded several human rights prizes. She has also being active in supporting NGO activities in the field of human rights education and asylum.
Read more about the Conference.

Making the conference welcoming, safe and accessible to all

ILGA-Europe continuously strive to make our events welcoming, safe and accessible to all. We made accessibility a priority criterion when selecting the main conference venue. We looked at evaluation from previous conferences and took on board many of the suggestions made. We earmarked budget to support specific accessibility measures based on most frequently expressed needs. We know that there is always progress to be made: event accessibility is a continuous learning process that we are committed to within the scope of our capacity and resources.
Read the specific measures we will be putting in place in terms of accessibility.


Equality and non-discrimination

Mandate of UN Expert on SOGI is renewed

LGBTI activists in Uzbekistan call on the government to decriminalise same-sex relations

On 24 July, the Uzbek bureau of Radio Free Europe reported about receiving a letter from Uzbek LGBTI activists in which they are calling on the Uzbek Government to decriminalize same-sex relations by removing the article 120 from the Penal Code. The activists’ letter states that “Our goal is to have the article 120 removed from the Penal Code of Uzbekistan. The article provides a green light to lynching and corruption. We hope our demand reaches the President Mirziyoyev through UN”. It is also well known that the Uzbek judiciary uses the article 120 to invigorate convictions against political prisoners.
For more, see (in Russian).



UK Parliament voted for equal marriage law in Northern Ireland

ILGA-Europe wholeheartedly congratulate the Love Equality NI Campaign and all other LGBTI activists in Northern Ireland who have been pushing for both political and public support for equality in recent years. Their efforts paid off on 9 July as the House of Commons has voted by majority to extend marriage equality to Northern Ireland and on 22 July it was approved at the House of Lords. The amended bill, which will now head to the Queen for royal assent, will extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland by January 2020, provided that power-sharing in the region is not restored beforehand.


Freedom of assembly

First Tbilisi Pride took place despite refusal and threats

Tbilisi Pride organisers held an impromptu Pride Parade in Tbilisi on 8 July. Despite impediments posed by the Ministry of Interior and repetitive refusals to provide protection to participants, the group organised a small spontaneous march. The event was successful -and most importantly- happened without incidents. LGBT+ people and human rights activists, as well as politicians and representatives of civil society organizations also participated in the rally, which lasted for about half an hour.

A feminist group in Almaty denied holding a protest amid expectations that LGBT+ might join

According to activist Veronika Fonova of the KazFem feminist movement in Kazakhstan, the authorities denied the organisation to organise a demonstration on 22 July to raise public awareness about the challenges faced by women sex workers. One of the reasons the authorities cited was the expected participation of the LGBT+ people in the demonstration. As Veronica Fonova mentioned in their Facebook post, the Almaty city authorities think that “the Kazakh society is not ready for public events with participation of LGBT+ people”.

European Parliament LGBTI Intergroup’s statement on LGBTI-phobic violence in Poland

Following the attacks against the Pride participants in the Polish city of Bialystok on 20 July, the European Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup made a statement saying that they “were appalled to see that the participants of the Equality March became victims of LGBTI-phobic hate speech and physical violence exhibited by far-right groups and football ultra-fans”. The MEP’s from the Intergroup called on the Polish authorities and the European Commission to take action regarding freedom of assembly, discrimination, violence and hate speech in Poland.

Freedom of association

European Court finds Russia’s refusal to register 3 LGBT organisations unjustified and discriminatory

On 16 July, the European Court of Human Rights found Russia’s refusal to register associations set up to promote and protect the rights of LGBT people to violate the rights to freedom of association and to be discriminatory on the grounds of sexual orientation. The Court’s judgment was informed by a third party intervention submitted jointly by the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), ILGA-Europe and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on 29 July 2016. “This judgment sends a key message to LGBTI activists in Russia and other countries across Europe who are facing similar discriminatory restrictions - refusal to register associations cannot be justified on the ground of protection of morals” said Arpi Avetisyan, ILGA-Europe’s Senior Litigation Officer.
Read more about the judgment on our media release.

Freedom of movement

Bulgarian Supreme Court rules in favour of free movement for a same-sex spouse

The Bulgarian Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the right of residency for the same-sex spouse of an EU citizen, in a landmark judgment issued on 24 July. Upholding the right to freedom of movement for all EU citizens and their spouses, this judgment is coherent with the ruling last year by the Court of Justice of the EU in the Coman case, confirming that EU Member States are obliged to treat the same-sex spouse of an EU citizen just as they would a different-sex spouse – irrespective of whether or not the Member State provides in its own laws possibilities for same-sex marriage or civil partnership. The judgment in this case is final, and must now be implemented by the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Legal gender recognition

“Clinics in Turkey must perform gender affirmation surgeries for trans people”

The Turkish Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling affirming that clinics in Turkey must perform gender affirmation surgeries for trans people, such as hysterectomies. This ruling follows a 2-year court proceeding. While the Turkish Supreme Court has previously ruled that sterilisation cannot be a requirement for access to legal gender recognition, this ruling is not in effect, so the consequence of hospitals refusing to perform such surgeries has been a near-abolition of legal gender recognition.


Hate crime

Registrations open for the international conference on LGBTI people and violence in Europe

European training of trainers on hate crime against LGBTI persons

The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Unit of the Council of Europe is calling on interested applicants to apply for the European Training of Trainers on Hate Crime Against LGBTI persons that will be organised in October/November 2019. The applicants must be members of law enforcement authorities such as police forces, border authorities or prosecutor bodies dealing specifically with hate crime against LGBTI persons.
Applications are due by 13 September at the latest.


Hate speech

Kyrgyz kalpak spotted at the Pride in Trier sparks online debate in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz kalpak – a traditional headwear – symbolises patriarchy and power in Kyrgyzstan, and is considered as a national symbol. Kyrgyz activists around the world deliberately display the Kyrgyz flag, kalpak and other symbols in Pride events along with rainbow flags to make a political point. The appearance of a Kyrgyz gay activist with kalpak in the Trier Pride (Germany) on 20 July was not an exception, and immediately attracted public attention in Kyrgyzstan creating online debates about the rights of LGBTI people and contributing to the visibility of the Kyrgyz LGBTI people.


Notice board

Five full-time internship opportunities at ILGA World

ILGA World are looking for Programme Intern on UN Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures, Programme Intern on UN Human Rights Council and UPR, Programme Intern for Research, Programme Intern on Intersex People and Sex Characteristics, and Communications Intern to join their team. All internship are six months long and will start in September / early October 2019. The internships are virtual, and the intern can be based anywhere with good internet connection. The exact working hours and dates can be flexible, but a candidate should be available to work full-time (37.5 hours/week). The internship receives a financial compensation of CHF 750 per month.
Apply here by 11 August.

The European Network Against Racism is recruiting an Impact and Process Officer

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) is a pan-European anti-racism network that combines advocacy for racial equality and facilitating cooperation among civil society anti-racism actors in Europe. They are based in Brussels and have member organisations in all EU countries. The Impact & Process Officer is tasked with developing and supervising the implementation of internal processes, improving impact assessment mechanisms, supporting the Team in their implementation and report on progress.
Read more and apply before 30 August.

Consultancy for a sexual and reproductive health and rights project

YSAFE (Youth Sexual Awareness for Europe) aims to lead and empower a network of young champions to educate and advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). They coordinate a transnational project that will create a new toolkit, particularly for use with marginalized groups, on protection from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). They are seeking a consultant who will co-create the toolkit with the project team and youth groups, and train young participants to deliver activities using it.
Have a look at the terms of reference and apply by 19 August.

Organising rainbow days in your city

Does your city have a multi-day non-LGBTI-event like public street parties, Oktoberfeste or cultural festivals? And would you like to create an inclusive LGBTI-day during that event? The Dutch Pink Wednesday is looking for 4 to 5 partners in the EU who’d like to participate in the EU programme ‘Europe for citizens’ for civil society projects.
See for more information and react before 1 December 2019.