LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

May 2020

Rainbow Map launched, Hungary made LGR impossible, North Macedonia repealed anti-discrimination law, and much more...


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No. 296. May 2020. In this issue...



Equality and non-discrimination


Freedom of assembly

Hate speech


Legal gender recognition

Notice board


Rainbow Europe 2020 has been launched

Published on 14 May, the Rainbow Europe – ILGA-Europe’s annual benchmarking tool – examines the laws and policies in 49 countries using a set of 69 criteria – divided between six thematic categories: equality and non-discrimination; family; hate crime and hate speech; legal gender recognition and bodily integrity; civil society space; and asylum. You can see the original information sources that we base our Map and Index ranking on through our updated Rainbow Europe web module,

Rainbow Map points to make-or-break moment for LGBTI rights in Europe

The ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map and Index revealed that once-leading countries in Europe are falling behind in their commitments to equality for LGBTI people. Combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affects the most vulnerable and is being used by some governments as an excuse to advance their agendas to curtail human rights, the Map’s findings identify a make-or-break moment for LGBTI equality in Europe.
Read here our press release with an executive summary of results.
Watch back our online launch event that brought together policy makers and civil society.
Watch here short video messages from European policy makers with their commitments.

Join our Instagram Live chat about EU enlargement countries on 4 June

During June, ILGA-Europe will have a series of Instagram live chat about the Rainbow Map results and the stories behind the scores. We will talk to activists to understand how the COVID-19 is affecting their activism, what the Rainbow Map score says about the particular issues and how we can move forward as a movement despite growing crisis. The series kick off on 4 June from 18.00 CEST with ILGA-Europe’s Belinda Dear connecting with ERA LGBTI Association’s Vuk Raičević to discuss the state of play of LGBTI people in the EU enlargement countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey).
Join our live chat on Thursday, 4 June from 18.00 CEST.
Follow @ilga-europe on Instagram.

Meet online with activists about how to reach out to LGBTI communities


Save the date for the Equality Gala Online: 25 June 2020

Brussels' biggest fundraising party for LGBTI equality is coming to your home this year! Join our European Equality Gala Online on 25 June 2020.
Get updates about our Gala on the Facebook event page.

Tips for organising online fundraising events

As we gear up to bring our annual fundraising event online, Anna Shepherd, ILGA-Europe’s Partnerships Manager, shares some tips to help your organisation, whether you’re moving a physical fundraising event online or trying out a new online fundraising concept.
Click here to read more about online fundraising events.
Watch back the webinar on fundraising events Anna joined on 7 May.

Gathering a list of funding opportunities for LGBTI activists

On the week of IDAHOBIT, our Programmes Team launched their brand-new webpage with information on ILGA-Europe's current funding opportunities along with other external calls for LGBTI organisations and activists in Europe and Central Asia. At ILGA-Europe we strive to support the work of the LGBTI movement in many ways, including by re-granting resources and sharing those external opportunities that meet the needs of LGBTI movements and communities.
Check out our webpage that we keep up to date.
Find more resources from the ILGA-Europe ‘Protect, Adapt, Rally: 3-Part Plan for the COVID-19 Crisis’.

Help us identify real impact of COVID-19 on LGBTI people

ILGA-Europe are inviting LGBTI groups and organisations in Europe and Central Asia to fill in our survey on monitoring the impact of COVID-19 crisis. Understanding current issues faced by LGBTI people will help ILGA-Europe to develop effective, evidence-based legal and policy and action demands for EU institutions and local governments. Based on the information collected, we will very soon organise thematic webinars to talk about what is happening in the region, to identify the needs and discuss together what policy responses need to look like.

Looking for consultants for organising web-based conference

ILGA-Europe team is looking for a consultant or small team of consultants expected to work with us on a variety of tasks to help ensure that an online event this October will come to a successful fruition. Send your application if you have a proven track-record in organizing large scale online meetings, experience working with online platforms that host larger events, and a track-record in working on human rights and/or with marginalised and underrepresented communities.



A celebrity in Turkmenistan has been charged over same-sex relation

On 23 May, a news outlet in Turkmenistan reported about a Turkmen celebrity who had been arrested and convicted of homosexuality in the capital Ashgabat. Earlier in April, there was news from the same outlet that the police had detained a celebrity, his boyfriend and dozen others allegedly for engaging in same-sex relations which is illegal in Turkmenistan. this time reported that the celebrity had been convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. Following the report, Human Rights Watch issued a statement condemning the conviction and calling upon the Turkmen Government to repeal the article 135 from its Criminal Code. (Photo credit:
Read more.


Equality and non-discrimination

FRA’s 2nd LGBTI Survey points to clear need for decisive and immediate action by the EU

There has been little progress in the lived experience of LGBTI people in Europe over the past seven years. This is a clear message coming out of the report on the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) 2nd LGBTI survey published on 14 May. Combined with ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Europe Map, we have a uniquely comprehensive picture of the state of affairs for LGBTI people in Europe, with data on the legal and policy landscape complemented by data about the lived reality of LGBTI people in Europe. The unmistakable conclusion is there are no more excuses for complacently believing that the work on LGBTI equality is done, anywhere in Europe.
Read more about the research and our statement.
UPDATE: On 27 May, the European Commission revealed their re-prioritised workplan 2020 with the inclusion of the LGBTI strategy.

The long-fought anti-discrimination legislation in North Macedonia has been repealed

On 14 May, the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia repealed the Law on Prevention of and Protection against Discrimination due to the fact that it was adopted without the required constitutional majority in 2019. The adoption of the Law was a victory for all citizens and for equality. It had for the first time explicitly prohibited against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity – the result of many years of work, tireless commitment and perseverance of LGBTI activists in North Macedonia.
Read our joint statement with ERA.
More on the legal situation of LGBTI people in North Macedonia.


Letter to Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in regards to the new parental law

The Finnish government has decided to put forward a new Parental Law, which has the potential of allowing for full recognition of rainbow families. On 5 May, together with NELFA we sent a letter to Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin to encourage to use this occasion to be the first country in Europe to put in place a Parental Law that truly treats all families equally.

Latvia moves on drafting of a life spouse partnerships bill

On 27 May, for the first time, the Social and Employment Matters Committee of the Parliament of Latvia has decided to start an official consultation into the drafting of a life spouse partnerships bill, which will take place over the summer. Kaspars Zalitis, Coordinator of the Movement "Dzivesbiedri" (Life Spouses) said: “For the first time in Latvia, the Latvian Parliament has begun the discussion on the importance and necessity to support unions outside the concept of marriage. This is an important moment for all families in Latvia, including for the rainbow families, as every family deserves respect and protection.”

Freedom of assembly

Pride organisations come together to organise ‘Global Pride’ on 27 June

InterPride and the European Pride Organisers Association – the world’s biggest international Pride networks – are working with national organisations in Canada, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and regional networks in southern Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America, to bring communities and Pride organisations together for a ‘Global Pride’ event on Saturday, 27 June 2020. Global Pride will use online platforms to deliver a Pride in which everyone can participate, wherever they are in the world. It will include musical performances, speeches, and key messages from human rights activists.

Hate speech

International call to end hate speech and targeted attacks against LGBTI people in Turkey

On 8 May, ILGA-Europe and 9 other international human rights organisations revealed a joint statement calling on the Turkish government to ensure that all of its representatives refrain from making statements that stigmatise LGBTI people and people living with HIV, and which put them at risk of harassment and attack. LGBTI activists are concerned about rising hateful rhetoric against the LGBTI community by representatives of high-level religious and political institutions in Turkey which we have seen in the last month. The attacks on the LGBTI community unfortunately have become exemplary of efforts by the Turkish government to undermine human rights and the rule of law in the country.

LGBTI activists in Kazakhstan call for the disqualification of a homophobic MMA fighter

Following an IDAHOBIT message from the US Embassy in Kazakhstan, a renowned MMA fighter Kuat Khamitov wrote on his Instagram with nearly 250 thousands followers that “These people [LGBTI] are worse than dogs!’ and added that ‘Dogs could get offended [by this comparison].” LGBTI activist Nurbibi Nurkadilova reacted to his post by addressing an open letter to Khamitov condemning his LGBTI-phobic posts and demanding he stops spreading hatred against LGBTI. As a result Nurkadilova has been targeted by anti-LGBTI groups and has received numerous threats to her and her girlfriend’s lives. (Photo credit: Kok Team)

LGBTI movement in Azerbaijan condemns homophobia by opposition

On 14 May, during an online discussion organised by Azerbaijan’s Coordination Centre of the National Council of Democratic Forces (an alliance of opposition parties), the high-level politicians involved in a homophobic discussion by first ridiculing the journalist İsmayıl Cəlilov's same-sex marriage, his husband, and the stress they are experiencing, and the LGBTI community has been called "üzdəniraq" (someone who should not be seen/encountered). Continuing the discussion, Rafiq Manaflı (Chairman of the Supreme Assembly of the Civil Solidarity Party) justified the Holocaust committed by Nazi Germany, adding: "I am very sorry that Hitler did not kill (destructed) those gays in 41-45."


Germany is one step closer to ban “conversion therapy” for minors

On 7 May, the German Bundesregierung decided to adopt a law banning so-called “conversion therapy” performed against persons under 18. ILGA-Europe hope this adoption will mark the start of efforts to end the practices, and look forward to its positive reception in the Bundesrat as well, and encourage clear responses from the German Medical Association to develop clear guidelines following their 2014 resolution condemning so-called “conversion therapy”, as well as ongoing legal discussions about how to effectively protect adults from these coercive practices as well as false advertisements as to their purported “outcomes”.

Albania's licensing body for psychologists banned “conversion therapy”

The Order of Psychologists in Albania, announced on 17 May a total ban on so-called “conversion therapy” by psychologists. “The decision is significantly important for LGBTI adolescents, whose parents often force them to undergo conversion therapy, in the hope of changing their sexual orientation or gender identity” says PINK Embassy NGO. The Order of Psychologists said members would face disciplinary proceedings if they carried out the treatment. All registered psychologists in Albania must be members of the Order of Psychologists which has given licences to about 600 psychologists since it was set up by parliament in 2017.
Read more.

Legal gender recognition

LGBT movement in the UK is worried about Minister’s statement on trans rights

On 22 April, the United Kingdom Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss announced that the government’s response to a consultation to reform the Gender Recognition Act will be delivered by the summer. She also made some worrying points by commenting on trans people’s access to single-sex services and the ‘checks and balances’ that will be in the new system. The Minister said she wants to make sure ‘that the under 18s are protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future’.

Hungary rolls back legal protections, puts trans and intersex people at risk

On 19 May, following weeks of international outcry, the Hungarian Parliament voted 133 in favour, 57 opposed, to approve an omnibus bill, one article of which replaces the category of “sex” on the civil registry with one of “sex assigned at birth”. The article within the omnibus bill, Article 33, amends the civil registry document, which is used as the basis for all legal identity documents for Hungarian citizens. In practice Hungary has made legal gender recognition, the process by which trans and intersex people can bring their documents into alignment with their gender identity, impossible. On 28 May, the President of the Hungarian Republic has signed the law despite human rights concerns raised by domestic and international bodies.
Read more on our joint statement with TGEU, OII Europe, and IGLYO.
Show your dismay, raise your voice and help protect human rights for all Hungarians by signing this online support letter.

Notice board

ILGA World Conference postponed to 2022

Organised by ILGA World and to be hosted by the It Gets Better Project, the conference was originally planned for November 2021 in Los Angeles, CA, United States. After careful consideration of the board, the event has been postponed to Spring 2022 in California. The theme of the conference will be announced in the second half of this year, and a call for scholarship applications and session proposals will be opened in its last quarter. The official dates will be also communicated soon.

Copenhagen 2021 welcomes proposals for the Human Rights Conference

The team of Copenhagen 2021 is hosting WorldPride and EuroGames in 2021. From 17 until 19 August 2021, they are organising a high-level three-day Human Rights Conference and have just opened its Call for Sessions to its extended network. They welcome proposals for the 10 thematic topics of the LGBTI+ Human Rights Conference in two rounds. This round is targeted towards the extended network and open until Monday 3 August 2020.
Read more.

Webinar on 'Protecting LGBT+ persons from torture and ill-treatment'

In March, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights delivered a ground-breaking ruling in the case of Azul Rojas Marin v. Peru, addressing for the first time the issue of discriminatory torture. On 11 June, Redress NGO will organise a webinar and Q&A session with strategic litigation professionals from around the globe, including ILGA-Europe Senior Strategic Litigation Officer Arpi Avetisyan to discuss the March-dated case and how strategic litigation is contributing to advance justice and protection for LGBT+ persons around the world.
Register for the webinar that will take place on 11 June from 18.00 CEST.
Find out more about the case of Azul Rojas Marin v. Peru.