Malta is the best country in Europe for LGBTQI persons, while Azerbaijan, Turkey, Armenia and Russia are the most unequal, an annual rainbow ranking has revealed. The bad news is that countries in Europe continue to move backwards in the Rainbow Index.

The annual Rainbow Map prepared by ILGA-Europe ranks 49 European countries on the basis of their laws and policies for LGBTQI residents. It grades the countries on a set of 69 criteria, broadly categorised into six sections, including, equality and non-discrimination; family; hate crime and hate speech; legal gender recognition and bodily integrity; civil society space; and asylum

For the fifth year in a row Malta topped the list with a score of 89 % on account of its LGBTQI friendly policies. Belgium (73%), Luxembourg (73%), Denmark (68%) and Norway (68%) rounded out the top five.

Azerbaijan (2%) was at the bottom of the list, along with Turkey (4%), Armenia (8%), Russia (10%) and Monaco (11%).



Hungary, which recently in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis sought to pass a law banning legal gender recognition for transgender persons, had a steep fall in the rankings losing around 8.46 % points. Poland, which has seen attacks on LGBTQI rights and LGBT free zones being declared, is ranked 42 and is the lowest EU country on the map.

The expiry of the government’s action plan for LGBTQI rights in France resulted in a ranking of 13. The United Kingdom which till 2015 used to top the list as the best place for LGBTQI persons in Europe, fell to ninth place this year. The fall has been fuelled by hate crimes against LGBTQI persons – homophobic attacks had doubled while transphobic attacks had tripled.

“This is a critical time for LGBTI equality in Europe. With each year passing, more and more countries, including champions of LGBTI equality, continue to fall behind in their commitments to equality for LGBTI people, while more governments take active measures to target LGBTI communities,” said Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, Evelyne Paradis.

With countries busy in managing the COVID-19 fallout, the worry is that the progress made in securing rights for LGBTQI persons may be eroded. “History shows that those who are vulnerable before a crisis only become more vulnerable after a crisis, so we have every reason to worry that political complacency, increased repression and socio-economic hardship will create a perfect storm for many LGBTI people in Europe in the next few years,” said Paradis.

Viima Lampinen, Co-chair of the ILGA-Europe Executive Board expressed concern over the increasing attacks on trans rights.

“The news that more governments are adopting laws that protect trans, intersex and non-binary people must be read with extreme caution. Targeted attacks on trans rights by opposition groups have been observed in an increasing number of countries across the region, especially transphobic speech fuelled online,” said Lampinen.


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