Several Western Balkan countries have undertaken reforms positively affecting LGBTI people, while Montenegro has the best legal and policy environment for LGBTI people in Europe’s emerging region, according to the latest report. Rainbow map and index of Europe of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in Europe (ILGA-Europe).
The LGBTI rights organization ranks 49 European countries based on the legal and political situation of LGBTI people in its annual index. The latest, published on May 17, reveals that over the past 12 months, progress on LGBTI rights has come to “almost a standstill”, with the lack of progress “an unprecedented year in the 12 years of ‘history of the map’.
“It is deeply worrying to see an almost total stagnation on LGBTI rights and equality, particularly at such a critical time for LGBTI communities. Over the past year, we have seen increased political repression against LGBTI people, a sharp increase in socio-economic hardship, and the spread of phobic LGBTI hatred on the streets and online across the region” , said the executive director of ILGA-Europe. , Evelyne Paradis, commenting on the report.
“In this context, the response of governments must consist of more and better concrete actions, to ensure that people are protected more, not less. The human rights of LGBTI people cannot simply be something that is abandoned when circumstances are difficult. »
Reaching 63 on a scale from 0% (gross human rights violations, discrimination) to 100% (respect for human rights, full equality), EU candidate country Montenegro is the country highest ranked in the Emerging Europe region and trailed only by 10. Western European countries (Malta, Belgium and Luxembourg top the list).
In 2020, Montenegro’s parliament legalized same-sex civil partnershipsthus becoming the first state in the Western Balkans to legally recognize same-sex couples.
The report highlights, however, that legislative processes have stalled in Montenegro over the past 12 months. – which saw a new government installed in December after months of negotiations. Countries like Montenegro need to ensure that the laws they have adopted actually come into force, while many others know what they can and should do to ensure that their laws and policies have the desired impact on the lives of LGBTI people,” the report states. .
With the exception of Estonia, the six highest-ranked emerging European countries are all member states of the former Yugoslavia: Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia. Not far behind are Albania and North Macedonia, which, despite ruling Fidesz’s anti-liberal rhetoric, is one of the highest-ranking emerging European countries on the index.
Along with Malta, North Macedonia and Bosnia are the three countries where scores have increased the most. The increase in North Macedonia and Bosnia is due to the fact that freedom of assembly has improved in both countries.
Albania also moved up the rankings, after including protection of sex characteristics in anti-discrimination legislation.
All EU membership candidates from the Western Balkans thus perform better than most established EU members, with Poland performing particularly poorly.
“The space for Polish civil society has shrunk further this year, as people are actively attacked by the police at public events, instead of being protected. Poland also lost points related to freedom of expression, due to anti-LGBT resolutions passed by local governments,” the report said.
The four lowest ranked countries in the index – Azerbaijan, Türkiye, Armenia and Russia – were all from emerging Europe.
Also from the region, Georgia fell 3.73% on the index due to the lack of a clear procedure for legal gender recognition and the risky situation of LGBTI human rights defenders, while Ukraine lost 3.5 % of points with the expiration of the government’s action plan.
A previous ILGA-Europe report showed a “sharp increase” in abuse and hate speech against LGBTI people in the Europe and Central Asia region, including from politicians in 2020. This has happened in multiple ways, from the use of powers by governments – notably in Hungary – to hijack trans rights, excluding LGBTI people from coronavirus (COVID-19) support programs.