LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

July 2020

Montenegro's new partnership law, ECHR's judgements on LGR, new resources on COVID-19, and much more...


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No. 298. July 2020. In this issue...



Equality and non-discrimination



Hate crime


Legal gender recognition

Notice board



New report on ILGA-Europe's response to COVID-19

In mid-March, as Europe was overtaken by the COVID-19 pandemic and one-by-one countries began to go into lockdown, the team at ILGA-Europe felt we had to quickly adapt our work to respond to emerging needs. As a result ILGA-Europe had to reassess our activities and priorities for 2020. We assessed what activities were still possible and relevant, and also identified new needs, and throughout the past few months, the dedicated teams at ILGA-Europe have spearheaded a wealth of new initiatives.
Find here the short report of the work we have carried out since the beginning of the pandemic.
Find our resources to support LGBTI movement during the COVID-19 crisis.

The seven ways COVID-19 has hugely impacted LGBTI people

“While the Coronavirus does not discriminate, it has hit vulnerable communities disproportionately harder.” This is the conclusion of ILGA-Europe’s rapid assessment report on the impacts of COVID-19 on LGBTI people, organisations, and communities in Europe and Central Asia. In this blog, ILGA-Europe’s policy team share the seven main areas of life in which COVID-19 has specifically impacted LGBTI people, a sum up of the rapid assessment report available on ILGA-Europe’s website.
Read here our blog post.
Download here the full report in PDF.

New briefing document: Evidence requirements to hold States accountable through litigation and advocacy

ILGA-Europe published a new briefing document elaborating on evidence requirements to hold States accountable through litigation and advocacy. Certain areas of States’ positive obligations under human rights law during the Coronavirus outbreak depend on whether the State knew or ought to have known about risks, actions or inactions resulting in human rights violations. It is therefore important to collect sufficient evidence as the violations are taking place to strengthen advocacy activities and for potential future litigation; and to ensure that government bodies are being informed about potential risks and incidents. Documentation is thus a key element of legal accountability.
Read more on the briefing document.
Find more resources of ILGA-Europe to support LGBTI movement during the COVID-19 crisis.

The best moments of the European Equality Gala Online


Revolut’s new rainbow card supports ILGA-Europe

To celebrate Pride season across Europe, Revolut, one of the biggest FinTech communities in the world, has released a new rainbow card for customers in the EEA and UK. All proceeds will go directly to ILGA-Europe. Support from the Revolut community has a real impact on our vital work advocating for LGBTI rights and supporting frontline activists across Europe and Central Asia, and the launch of new rainbow cards will allow us to do even more. To get your limited edition rainbow card while stocks last, download the Revolut app and go to Profile > Widgets > Donations > ILGA-Europe.


Online conference about LGBTI asylum and migration to be held on 24 and 25 August

On 24 and 25 August, COC Netherlands is organising an online conference “WE– Connect Europe” about LGBTI asylum and migration. They will discuss chances, developments and challenges newcomers face and finding solutions. There will be panel discussions, workshops, self-organized activities and plenty of opportunity for networking.
Register here.

Equality and non-discrimination

New training module on impacts of State responses to COVID-19

On 25 June, the Equal Rights Trust organised a webinar on identifying, documenting and challenging the discriminatory impacts of state responses to COVID-19. The webinar was supplemented by a training manual as part of a their #NoCOVIDDiscrimination Initiative, launched on 4 June to help equality defenders in their essential work against discriminatory responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The manual provides information on international standards on the rights to equality and non-discrimination and on discriminatory impacts of state responses to the COVID-19 pandemic as an emerging picture.
Sign up for the trainings.
Download here the briefing paper about the training module.
You can email the Equal Rights Trust to submit a request for support or to find out more.



‘Comprehensive sexuality education protects children’

On 21 July, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović published a human rights comment reaffirming the right to children to comprehensive sexual education and condemns the attempts by a number of governments across Europe to ban sexual education in schools or limit its scope. The comment is published at a moment when the Romanian Constitutional Court has been asked by the country’s President to examine a legislation passed by Parliament banning sexual education and information on gender in schools.
Read here the human rights comment on sexuality education.


Montenegro has adopted the registered partnership legislation

On 1 July, the Parliament of Montenegro voted in favour of the Law on Life Partnerships of the Persons of the Same Sex. Last year on 19 July 2019, the Parliament voted on the bill, but there was a lack of majority support and the law was not adopted. This makes Montenegro the first country in the Western Balkans to adopt a law legally recognising same-sex couples. The law was published on 7 July in the Official Gazette of Montenegro and will enter into force on the eighth day from the day of its publication and will apply one year thereafter.

ILGA-Europe and TGEU submitted a third-party intervention before the ECtHR in a case concerning trans people’s custody rights

On 9 July, ILGA-Europe and TGEU submitted a third-party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in the case of A.M. against Russia, concerning the decision of Russian authorities to restrict a transgender parent’s custody rights on the grounds that contacts would have a “negative impact on the mental health and psychological development” of her children. The submission provides information and research about transgender parenthood dispelling some myths and preconceptions that surround it. It also examines national and international legal developments suggesting that the “best interests of the child” standard should be based on an individualised, contextualised inquiry into the facts, that balances the interests of all those involved, rather than provide a vehicle for negative preconceptions about trans parents.

Hate crime

A gay man in Kazakhstan is being held hostage by his family

Bekzat Mukashev, a gay man from Kazakhstan, came out to his family last year, he was then forced to have a brain surgery to “cure his homosexuality” and forced be separated from his partner Akram who is an LGBTI activist. On 14 July, one of the renowned human rights defenders and a lawyer in Kazakhstan Aiman Umarova publicly addressed the Kazakh Interior Minister and the Prosecutor General claiming she had proof of Bekzat being held hostage by his family and calling upon the law enforcement to take immediate actions to free Bekzat. Arman and Bekzat attempted to escape and find asylum elsewhere, but he has been held hostage by his family.


UN Expert calls for a global ban on practices of so-called "conversion therapy"

On 7 July, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, presented his thematic report on the practices of so-called “conversion therapy” to the UN Human Rights Council. In his report, the Independent Expert calls for a global ban on practices of "conversion therapy", a process that must include clearly defining the prohibited practices; ensuring public funds are not used to support them; banning advertisements; establishing punishments for non-compliance and investigating respective claims; creating mechanisms to provide access to all forms of reparation to victims, including the right to rehabilitation.

Legal gender recognition

ECtHR: ‘States should allow the change of name and sex in the official documents in a fast, transparent and accessible way’

On 9 July, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgement in the case Y.T. v Bulgaria concerning legal gender recognition, in which ILGA-Europe had intervened jointly with TGEU and Bilitis. The Court found a violation of Article 8 (right to private and family life), considering that the domestic authorities’ refusal to grant legal recognition to Y.T.’s gender reassignment was deprived of relevant and sufficient reasons. Further, the rigidity in the domestic courts’ reasoning, which lasted for an unreasonable and continuous period, provoked feelings of vulnerability, humiliation and anxiety. The Court recalled key recommendations by United Nations and Council of Europe bodies which urge States to allow the change of name and sex in the official documents in a fast, transparent and accessible way.

Landmark judgement recognising the right of refugees to legal gender recognition

On 16 July, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgement in the case Rana v. Hungary in which ILGA-Europe had intervened jointly with TGEU and Transvanilla. The Court held that Hungary had breached its obligation to protect the right to private life under Article 8 of the Convention and the right to human dignity, by rejecting the application of an Iranian transgender refugee to have his name and sex marker changed officially. The judgement is even more significant because it arrives two months after the Hungarian Parliament approved a bill, replacing “sex” on the civil registry with “sex assigned at birth”, which effectively bans legal gender recognition in the country. The Court recalled the State’s positive obligation to provide a procedure allowing legal recognition of gender identity and clarified it extended to all lawfully settled non-national citizens.

Russia plans to outlaw legal gender recognition

Russian trans and LGBT organisations have been mobilising to protect trans and LGB persons in the country from another attack on their rights since a package of draft laws had been put forward on 14 July by a group of Russian senators. The package, if adopted, would ban any changes to birth certificates and lead to a reversal of all previously made changes by 2022. It also seeks to add an additional layer of legal barriers to same-sex marriages and adoption by LGBT people. These barriers would be implemented based on birth certificates, where ‘sex’ would practically mean ‘sex assigned at birth’. In practice this would mean a total ban on marriage for trans persons, whose birth certificate and passport would show different gender markers. The package has been published on the State Duma website and is going through preliminary reviews before it can be put up to the first parliamentary vote.

New EC report on legal gender recognition procedures in the EU

The European Commission published a comprehensive report on legal gender recognition procedures and their impacts on the lives of trans people in the European Union Member States. The resource was prepared by experts in consultation with ILGA-Europe and other LGBTI organisations and experts. It includes extensive analysis the trans-specific data from the 2019 FRA LGBTI Survey as well.


Notice board

Apply for Global Pride Funding

The Global Pride will support the Pride movement and Pride organisations worldwide through their various funding programmes. The proceeds will be distributed into three areas: Pride organisations that are in financial distress due to COVID19; Organisations / groups / Pride organisations to support projects that empower LGBTQI+ communities or Pride events in underserved communities or regions; and Pride organisations with specific work that promotes change to end generations of inequities, racism, injustice, and systemic oppression. Applications to the Relief Fund for Pride organisations in financial distress fund are due by August 15, 2020. Applications for the Support Fund have rolling deadlines of August 15 2020, September 15 2020 and October 15 2020.
Read more and apply.
Find out more funding opportunities for LGBTI organisations at ILGA-Europe's up-to-date webpage.

Share best practices of municipalities from Eastern Europe and Balkans

COC Netherlands is looking for examples (or Best Practices) of municipalities in different Eastern European or Balkan Countries (as well as Turkey) that developed LGBTI agenda and have succeeded in promoting and involving the LGBTI community in countering discrimination. It can be anything – an LGBTI reading night in the Local Library, promoting LGBTI civil rights in the town hall, organizing an acquaintance day between the members of the community and the municipality workers, etc. The examples will be used for a best practice booklet to be used for a project in Albania that aims to strengthen the capacity of government institutions around LGBTI issues and that will be made available publicy.
Please contact Marina Slaikovska of COC Nederland if you have examples to share.

Apply to be a Programme Associate for the Dignity for All: LGBTI Assistance Programme

Dignity for All: LGBTI Assistance Program is seeking a Program Associate. The individual must have a demonstrated commitment to and awareness of human rights related to global LGBTI communities, as well as knowledge of international human rights principles and mechanisms and political, social and rights dynamics. Knowledge of LGBTI refugee/asylee issues preferred.
Applications are due 15 August.

Save the date for the conference "Intersectionality and LGBTI-Policies in Europe”

The German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth will organise the conference "Intersectionality and LGBTI-Policies in Europe: Lived Realities of Lesbian* Women and the Recognition of Rainbow Families" taking place in Berlin between 18-19 November 2020. The Euro-Central Asian Lesbian* Community is contributing to the event which is organised in the context of the German Presidencies of the Council of the European Union.
Register your interest by 28 August.