LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

September 2021

Swiss referendum in favour of marriage equality, repeal of anti-LGBT resolutions in Poland, and much more...

No. 312. September 2021. In this issue...



Equality and non-discrimination


Freedom of expression

Legal gender recognition

Notice board


We seek a writer to create web content

We are looking for a content creator to write content for the relaunch of the ILGA-Europe website. Content provider will deliver a website copy with a word count of at least 15,000 and will participate in three meetings — one briefing meeting, one check-in/Q&A meeting, and one feedback meeting. There may be extra meetings, which will be paid at the agreed rate. Deadline for applications is October, 14 2021 at 17:00 PM CEST.
Read more and apply.


#BiVisibilityDay: Meet these bold activists fighting against invisi(bi)lity

To mark Bi Visibility Day 2021, we interviewed seven bi activists from across Europe and Central Asia about debunking myths, their hopes for the future, and their place within LGBTI communities. We hear from Rachael Moore from Belgium, Diana Arseneva from Kyrgyzstan, Paula Cerescu from Moldova, Leopold Lindelauff from Belgium, Cherine Mathot from The Netherlands, Verity Ritchie from Slovenia, and Stefan Šparavalo from Serbia.

The disturbing inequality of being older and LGBTI

Many older LGBTI people remain invisible to other elderly people, while suffering ageism within their own LGBTI communities and legal and socio-economic barriers in their countries. To mark International Day of Older Persons on October 1, we look at the worrying obstacles LGBTI people may face as they age in Europe, even in countries where LGBTI rights are ensured.

Equality and non-discrimination

MEPs call on the EU to identify gender-based violence as crime

On 16 September, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that calls on the EU to identify gender-based violence as a new area of crime. The resolution demands targeted legislation and policies to address all forms of violence and discrimination based on gender (against women and girls, but also against LGBTIQ+ persons), whether offline or online. The EP also calls the EU to establish the prerequisite legal basis for common minimum rules on gender-based violence.

Civil society recommendations: how the Commission can improve the credibility, inclusiveness and impact of the Rule of Law Report

On 22 September, civil society, human rights defenders, journalists’ organisations, other media actors and other non-government stakeholders issued a joint statement on the EU rule of law report and gave recommendations on how the Commission can improve the credibility, inclusiveness and impact of the Rule of Law Report.

PACE strongly condemns so-called “honour” crimes

On 28 September, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution condemning so-called “honour” crimes which can take the form of murder, sequestration, abduction, torture, mutilation, burning, forced suicide, forced marriage, or conversion therapy. We are delighted to see so-called “honour” crimes explained in such an inclusive and thoughtful way in terms of their impact on LGBTI people.


EP: “Same-sex marriages and partnerships should be recognised across the EU”

On 14 September, the European Parliament adopted a resolution which calls on the European Union to ensure that LGBTI people are equal to other people when exercising their rights to freedom of movement in the EU with their families, including the full implementation of the European Court of Justice’s Coman judgement. The resolution also urges all EU countries to accept the adults mentioned in a child’s birth certificate as their legal parents.

European Court rules in favour of the best interest of the child in same-sex custody case

In a judgement released on 16 September on the case of X. v Poland, the European Court of Human Rights found the refusing a mother custody of her youngest child on the grounds of her sexual orientation as discriminatory and a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the applicant. ILGA-Europe had intervened in this case jointly with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Network of European LGBTIQ* Families (NELFA).

New resource available on inclusive family law

LGBT komiteen (Denmark) published an English translation of its Compendium of Inclusive Family Law, which contains a thorough analysis of Danish legislation related to parents and children and lists 30 recommendations for amendments. It also contains a sketch of a Children's Act which recognises more than two legal parents and which is agnostic to the gender of the parents enabling a proper handling of trans parents.

Swiss voters in favour of marriage equality

On 26 September, Switzerland held a referendum on a law granting full marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. Some 64.1% of voters accepted the reform, and none of the 26 cantons came out against it. Switzerland is now the 17th country in Europe to have marriage equality.

Freedom of expression

A book about two men’s love is censored in Turkey

On 10 September, English author Alice Oseman’s comic book Heartstopper, which depicts the love of two men and was published in Turkish in the past months, was declared as an obscene publication as a result of the decision of the Ministry of Family and Social Services Protection of Minors from Obscene Publications Board. ILGA-Europe expressed solidarity with the LGBTI community in Turkey “who are facing a relentless attack on their human rights, including the right to freedom of expression”.

“LGBT Free Zones” are reduced by half in Poland

On 22 September, the Świętokrzyskie region in Poland repealed its anti-LGBT resolution, that was adopted in June 2019. On 27 September, the regions of Podkarpackie, Małopolskie and Lubelskie also voted to repeal anti-LGBT resolutions, reducing “LGBT free zones” in Poland by half. While all regions in Poland should repeal these resolutions, the EU needs to ensure that Świętokrzyskie and the regions that follow suit go beyond just avoiding withdrawal of funding and actually abide by the principle of non-discrimination fully respecting EU treaties and legislation.

Deterioration of media freedom and the rule of law in Poland impact LGBTI rights

In a resolution adopted on 16 September, the European Parliament condemned the continuing deterioration of media freedom and the rule of law in Poland. The EP resolution shows how deterioration of media freedom and the rule of law impact LGBTI rights: from SLAPPs against LGBTI activists, to discriminatory application of EU funds, to state controlled media conducting smear campaigns against LGBTI people. ILGA-Europe welcome upcoming EP and EC initiatives against SLAPPs, the work to ensure EU funds are not spent in a discriminatory way and the EP launching conversation about direct management of EU funds to ensure they reach beneficiaries in need, when rule of law conditionality needs to be triggered. (Photo credit: Janek Skarzynski / AFP via European Parliament)

Legal gender recognition

Court in UK reversed the judgment affecting trans young people’s access to puberty blockers

On 17 September, the United Kingdom’s Court of Appeal reversed the judgment handed down in Bell v Tavistock by the Divisional Court. The appeal judgment confirms that it is ultimately “for clinicians to exercise their judgment” around the referral of patients for puberty delaying treatment, seeing as how they are already “subject to professional regulation and oversight”. The judgment protects the right to health for trans youth and importantly reaffirms that trans youth should be assessed in the same way as their peers as to their competence.

“Guidelines for the promotion and implementation of gender equality should be inclusive of all sexes/genders”

On 21 September, OII Europe, TGEU, ILGA-Europe and IGLYO a joint statement expressing deep concerns about the exclusive binary perspective on sex and gender shown in the justification of the work item proposal “Guidelines for the promotion and implementation of gender equality” proposed by the French Association française de normalisation (AFNOR). Guidelines, in its current form and justification, is based on a strictly binary understanding of sex and gender, which will likely result in the exclusion of many trans, intersex, and non-binary people from the standard, and any resulting work, thus hindering efforts to reach full gender equality. OII Europe, TGEU, ILGA-Europe and IGLYO recommend not to adopt the work item proposal in its current form and strongly encourage ISO and its organizations to work on a new, more inclusive proposal.

Notice board

Three job opportunities at ILGA World

ILGA World is hiring for the positions of Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics (GIESC) Programme Manager; Senior Programme Officer - UN Special Procedures and Sustainable Development Goals; and Communications Officer. Deadline for applications is Monday 25 October 2021 (1pm Central European Time).
Read more and apply.

Registrations open for OutSummit 2021

OutRight’s annual conference “OutSummit” is now open to registrations. OutSummit will be held virtually this year on 8-10 December, with sessions tailored to different time zones. It's open to everyone interested in learning more about LGBTIQ equality and how to better advance it, from across different sectors and countries. The conference theme this year centers on a basic demand - human rights for LGBTIQ people everywhere.
Read more and register.

Call to collaboration for organisations working against sexual violence

Menaswell is a Dutch organisation against sexual violence against men, trans and non-binary people. They are currently working with COC, Rutgers NL, GayKrant and Bi+ on a round table discussion to be held on 2nd December, to discuss consent within the LGBT+ community. They also collaborate with GGD Amsterdam to extend existing provisions to include support for male victims of sexual violence. Additionally, they are advising the Ministry of Justice and government to ensure men are included in the forthcoming sexual violence bill. Menaswell is currently looking for organisations across Europe to build a coalition on this topic, in which to share knowledge and resources to build a safer LGBT+ community.