LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

November 2019

TDoR, attacks in Georgia, trial against Pride organisers in Turkey, hate incidents across Europe, 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. 290. November 2019. In this issue...


Access to goods and services


Bodily integrity

Equality and non-discrimination

Freedom of assembly

Freedom of expression

Hate crime


Notice board



Call for applications for a consultant to support our movement building work on strategic communications

We are looking for a consultant who has experience in human rights communication and in particular in relation to areas of message framing, testing and campaigning. We expect that the consultant has a proven track record in working on social change processes. Experience in working on LGBTI issues is an asset. For this consultancy it is not required to be positioned in Brussels. We do however expect the consultant to travel to Brussels 3 to 4 times during this consultancy (February – September 2020). Applications should be sent by Wednesday 7January 2020 at 24:00 CET to Björn van Roozendaal – Programmes Director and Laura Piazza – Senior Campaigns and Programmes Officer, at: and Please make sure you send your application to both e-mail addresses.
Terms of Reference, instructions on selection process and criteria are available here.

Webinar on the results the research ‘Testing narratives to respond to the anti-gender discourse’ – Register now

Are you an LGBTI activist or an ally? Do you want to learn about the main findings of the message testing project that took place this year in Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Poland and Ukraine? Would you be interested in being part of the next phase of the project? Register for ILGA-Europe webinar which will take place on Monday 9 December 2019 from 11.00 to 12.30 CET (Central European Time). You cannot attend the webinar? Register to receive the recording! You can contact ILGA-Europe Senior Campaign and Programmes Officer Laura Piazza to receive the recording. Please note that this invitation is for activists in the LGBTI movement and their allies and it cannot be circulated without ILGA-Europe’s consent.
For more information, contact ILGA-Europe Senior Campaign and Programmes Officer Laura Piazza at

Call for contributions for LGBTI and autism submission to Council of Europe

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has been drawing attention on the stark inequalities that People with autism experience in many areas, from access to education to difficulties within the justice systems. The Assembly is now working on a report titled “Supporting people with autism and their families”, which will result in a resolution to be adopted by the Assembly in 2020. ILGA-Europe and Autism-Europe are preparing a submission to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the specific needs and struggles of LGBTI people on the autism spectrum and their families, and we are looking for inputs to this submission. Do you work with autistic LGBTI people?
Share your demands by 2 December and include your voice.

Building Bridges: How the LGBTIQ and homeless sectors can work together


Gathering in Brussels for D/deaf and disabled LGBTI activists and LGBTI and disability rights activists

11 D/deaf and disabled LGBTI activists from 9 European countries participated in the ILGA-Europe two-day gathering for D/deaf and disabled LGBTI activists and LGBTI and disability rights activists in Europe and Central Asia, which took place in Brussels between 22-23 November. It was an incredible opportunity to meet, share experiences, understand more of the contexts in which participants work in, including key issues and strategies that activists use, exchange and pull together knowledge, tools and practices to support and strengthen D/deaf and disabled LGBTI people, communities and movements. It was also a space to reflect together on the needs for movement building at the regional level.

Thanks to those contributed to strategic communication needs assessment

Thanks to the 200+ activists who contributed to our communication needs assessment taking the survey or responding to 1-1 interviews! We received responses from groups and organisations of all kinds from all over Europe and Central Asia which are already providing us with great insights. We appreciate your help! ILGA-Europe will be using the results to plan for new guides and resources and to inform donors on how to best support the LGBTI movement communications efforts. We will also share the results of the study with our membership at the beginning of 2020. Stay tuned!

A birthday invitation

“Join me in my 39th birthday celebration and let's rock the world!” ILGA-Europe board member Soudeh celebrated their birthday in November by raising much needed funds for our work. Soudeh invites you to chip in any amount to help them reach their goal by the end of the year. Do you have a special day coming up? Think about pledging it to LGBTI equality by setting up a Facebook fundraiser. With your help we can do more!


Access to goods and services

LGBTI event refused by a hotel management in Kazakhstan

A hotel in the Kazakhstani city of Almaty has refused to accommodate an event run by the LGBTI organisation Labrys Kyrgyzstan, citing “family concept and traditions”. The management of 8 Ozyor Hotel also claimed that the LGBTI movement is illegal in Kazakhstan. ILGA-Europe would like to remind the management of 8 Ozyor Hotel that LGBTI and same-sex relations are not criminalised in Kazakhstan. While LGBTI communities across Central Asia are facing difficulties to get together and organise events in safe spaces, it is the responsibility of the private sector in Kazakhstan to provide services without discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics. In order to live up to its national and international commitments, Kazakhstan needs to adopt anti-discrimination legislation, including sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics as categories. It’s time for Kazakhstan to take its place among the growing number of countries in the world that ensure LGBTI citizens are treated equally and fairly.



Italian LGBT associations denounce new rules against refugees

In Italy, the LGBTI associations Certi Diritti, Il Grande Colibrì, and Renzo e Lucio express their great preoccupation over the new “immigration decree” signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of the Interior, and Minister of Justice. The decree establishes 13 countries designated as “safe countries of origin” and respectful of human rights. These are Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Ghana, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Morocco, Montenegro, Senegal, Serbia, Tunisia and Ukraine. According to three LGBTI organisations, “women and sexual, ethnic, religious and national minorities are persecuted in these countries and that there are cases of violence linked to human trafficking”.


Bodily integrity

OII Europe’s new brochure with stories of intersex people

On the 8 November International Intersex Solidarity Day, OII Europe published their 108-pages brochure “#MyIntersexStory – Personal accounts by intersex people living in Europe” with fifteen testimonies by intersex people and their families and with fifteen colourful illustrations by intersex artist and OII Europe staff member Ins A Kromminga. The publication aims to raise awareness and compassion to the realities and human rights abuses intersex people in Europe face.
Read more about the brochure and access it here.

Equality and non-discrimination

ILGA-Europe submitted a third party intervention in the case Armine Oganezova against Armenia before ECHR

ILGA-Europe submitted an intervention to the European Court of Human Rights for the case Armine OGANEZOVA against Armenia. Ms Oganezova was an LGBT activist and a club owner in Armenia who attended Istanbul Pride in 2011 and gave interviews to some media outlets criticising Armenia’s human rights record. Following these interviews, she became the subject of an online hate campaign, intimidation and threats on the basis of her sexual orientation. Shortly thereafter several people organised an arson attack on the club co-owned by her, and she faced threats and harassment, as well as subjected to hate speech by a number of high profile government representatives and members of the parliament. Given lack of anti-discrimination legislation in Armenia, applicant’s sexual orientation was not considered as a motive for the acts and there was no effective investigation. ILGA-Europe’s brief to the Court argues that vulnerability of the victim as an LGBT person should be taken into account in the assessment of Article 3 violations (prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment). In addition, the brief argued that the State has a heightened positive obligation under Articles 3 and 8 to protect from and to effectively investigate allegations of violence with discriminatory elements.
Read more about the case.
Read ILGA-Europe's intervention to the Court.

Opinion delivered in a discrimination-in-employment case before CJEU

Advocate General Sharpston delivered her opinion on 31 October, in a discrimination in employment case before the Court of Justice of the European Union. An AG’s role is to give independent and impartial opinions on a legal solution to the case before the judges deliberate and deliver their judgment. Such opinions are not binding, however very influential and followed in the majority of cases. During a radio interview held in Italy on 16 October 2013, a senior lawyer stated he would never hire a homosexual person to work in his law firm. The Italian Corte suprema di cassazione requested the Court of Justice of the European Union to clarify European anti-discrimination Law’s application to such statements. In her opinion, Advocate General Sharpston considers such remarks to be likely to hinder access to employment, thus falling within the scope of the Directive on equal treatment in employment and occupation (EU Directive 2000/78/EC). Besides, she explains why prohibition of such statements doesn’t violate freedom of expression. Furthermore, associations with a legitimate interest may be granted standing to bring proceedings and claim damages in the absence of an identifiable victim, like in the case at stake. The Court’s ruling is expected to be delivered within a few months.
Read the opinion delivered by Advocacate General Sharpston.


Freedom of assembly

LGBTI+ rights defenders standing trial in Turkey for attending a Pride March

On 12 November, 19 LGBTI+ rights defenders stood trial, charged with “participating in an unlawful assembly” and “resisting despite warning” for attending the peaceful LGBTI+ Pride March at the Middle East Technical University campus in Ankara on 10 May 2019. ILGA-Europe, together with Civil Rights Defenders, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), called upon Turkish authorities to drop all charges. The court postponed the trial until 12 March 2020 and requested more visual materials in order to investigate. The complaint against the law enforcement officers’ brutality was not accepted by the court.
Read ILGA-Europe’s joint statement with other human rights CSOs urging Turkish authorities.
Read more about the outcome of the hearing on 12 November.

ERA Conference ended with the first Dyke March in Albania

On 5-9 November, Equal Rights Association (ERA) held its annual conference in Tirana, Albania. Undeterred by the rain, regional activists from the Western Balkans and Turkey came to Albania for the pre-conference (5-6 November) as well as the official programme, which focused on the Sustainability of the LGBTI+ movement in the Western Balkans and Turkey. Hosted in partnership with Albania’s LGBTI organisations, the conference brought together activists from the region, government officials from Albania and stakeholders from across Europe. Discussions focused around the future of the region’s LGBTI activism, from funding to the impact of the EU’s decision to block accession talks for North Macedonia and Albania. The conference also saw Tirana’s first ever Dyke March take place, which was a resounding success.
Find out more information about the conference here.

Freedom of expression

Feminist artist in Russia arrested for her body-positivist drawings online

Yulia Tsvetkova, a feminist educator and artist from Russia’s Far East region, was interrogated by the authorities there 29 November in relation to her feminist drawings online and her theatre project for children. She has been under home arrest and a gag order since 22 November, accused of the ‘production and dissemination of pornography’ and ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to children’ for which she can be imprisoned for 2 to 6 years. Along with herself, the children who attended the theatre activities and their parents have been also intimidated by police for several months, and Yulia has had to close down her theatre space. ILGA-Europe share our solidarity with Yulia. We believe that her charges violate her freedom of expression and should be withdrawn immediately.

Far-right attacks the premiere of a queer movie in Georgia

On 8 November, the Georgian-Swedish movie ‘And then we danced’ was premiered across Georgia. (Spoiler) The movie depicts a same-sex romance unfolding in the National Georgian Ensemble between two dancers. Before the announced date of the premiere, several far right groups announced that they would block the screenings. On the evening of the premiere hundreds of far right protesters gathered in front of the cinema and were not letting in those who bought tickets. Several persons were injured and taken to the hospital; police contained the crowd, but did not make any arrests. The Ministry of Interior and Ombudsman Institution made statements in favour of freedom of expression. WISG and Tbilisi Pride made statements asking the government to tackle hate crimes and intolerance at a general level through specific policies and concrete actions.


Hate crime

331 trans people murdered in the last 12 months worldwide

On the occasion of the International Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR), which was held on 20 November, the Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvT) team published their research project update. The TDoR 2019 update has revealed a total of 331 cases of reported killings of trans and gender-diverse people worldwide between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019. There are 11 cases of reported killings in Europe and Central Asia.

“As long as trans women of colour suffer exclusion, we will remain victims of mass murder”

Shocking statistics show that the overwhelming majority of trans people who were murdered last year were trans women of colour and sex workers. To mark Transgender Day of Remembrance, ILGA-Europe Blog hosted board members of the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe, Dinah de Riquet Bons and Sabrina Sanchez. They ask why 50 years on from Stonewall and the activism of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, so many trans women of colour live in danger of being violently killed by men.

“The European Union must act to change hearts and minds”

Piotr Godzisz, a board member of Lambda Warsaw, wrote an opinion piece on Openly News about the results of their research on hate incidents in Poland. The Call It Hate research found that, as a group, victims of anti-LGBT+ violence have actually a lower chance of getting help from bystanders (for example, by calling the police) than other victims. “The findings of the survey are a call to action for EU governments, including the one in Warsaw” says the author. “Legislating against all strands of hate should be a priority for all countries, which should then focus on the proper implementation of the laws.”

Homeless trans woman brutally attacked in Tirana

On 12 November, Anxhela, a homeless trans woman living in Tirana was brutally attacked by five men. Anxhela was hit on the back and beaten by the men until she lost consciousness. She managed to walk to the Aleanca community centre in downtown Tirana, where the staff called the police and an ambulance. According to ERA, she was one of the organisers of the ERA Conference in Albania and one of the frontline marchers at the first Dyke March. The LGBTI organisations in Albania demanded to have a meeting with the Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, to discuss concrete measures to ensure Anxhela’s needs are met. Aleanca and their activists announced on 14 November that they had a meeting with the Vice Mayor who promised to provide shelter at one of the municipality social houses.

A gay man disappeared in Turkmenistan

Last month the RFE/RL reported about a story of a gay man by disguising his sexual orientation. The article reported that the gay man was detained, beaten and tortured by police with a fake date in 2018. In the article the man also reported that he could no longer conceal his homosexuality after being forced to enter into a heteronormative marriage. Soon after the article was published, the man was requested to show up at a police station and then he went missing. Before his disappearance he had managed to record a video expressing concern about his potential disappearance. A few days later RFE/RL reported that the man in concern had been released and had reunited with his family. RFE/RL issued a third article about the case in which the man recanted everything that was written in the first article and claimed that the video he had “accidentally” shared was about another family matter.

Attack on LGBTI clubs in Ljubljana

On 1November, the Tiffany and Monokel Clubs, in the centre of Ljubljana, were attacked by thugs. They broke down the front door of the building and stormed the clubs, smashing windows and threatening visitors and members who had taken refuge inside the building and tried to barricade doors. Although there were no injuries, many people were traumatised. When the police arrived the attackers fled. Our member organisations in Slovenia point to the context of rising homophobic, biphobic and transphobic violence, and call for consistent action against bias-motivated violence, urging authorities to properly implement existing legislation and upgrade it where necessary.



European Testing Week took place on 22-29 November

ILGA-Europe supported the European Testing Week which took place 22-29 November 2019. European Testing Week is a European campaign that encourages partner organisations—in community, health care and policy institutions-- throughout Europe to unite for one week to increase testing efforts and promote awareness on the benefits of earlier hepatitis and HIV testing. This initiative has progressed since its start in 2013 and has grown to be a widely recognised European event with hundreds of organisations participating every year.

UN Independent Expert on SOGI is looking for inputs on ‘conversion therapy’

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity intend to present a thematic report at the 44th session of the Human Rights Council, which will focus on practices of so-called “conversion therapy” on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse people around the world. He is seeking inputs with information, data and views from all relevant stakeholders.


Notice board

Do you have pride in your library?

The IFLA LGBTQ Users Special Interest Group is collecting information from libraries around the world on the LGBTQ+ resources, services, spaces, programming, and employee support that they may provide. Responses that your library provides will help the IFLA LGBTQ+ Special Interest Group develop international guidelines for LGBTQ+ library resources, services, spaces, programming, and employee support. The survey is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.
Find out more and take the survey.

Job vacancy for the project evaluation on HIV/AIDS

Aidsfonds, Frontline AIDS and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) are seeking proposals from individuals who have experience of conducting reviews and evaluations of human rights and HIV/AIDS programmes; gender; demonstrated knowledge and understanding of advocacy for human rights programming in the context of HIV/AIDS. The deadline for the submission of Expressions of Interest is Thursday 5 December.
Read more on the terms of reference and apply.