Countries across Europe need to do more to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people, according to a new index, which says law and policy advances have slowed down across the region.
The ‘Rainbow Europe’ index, released today by advocacy group ILGA-Europe, ranks 49 countries in the region on their LGBTI equality laws and policies, giving them a score between 0% (gross violations of human rights, discrimination) and 100% (respect for human rights, full equality).
Azerbaijan fared the worst in this year’s ranking, scoring less than 5% on criteria measuring policies in areas including equality and non-discrimination, legal gender recognition, hate crime and civil society space.
ILGA-Europe cited police raids against LGBTI people and offensive public statements by politicians among the major issues in the country.
Armenia, Turkey and Monaco were also among the poorest performers on the index.
In the European Union, Latvia was the lowest scoring country, with a mark of around 16%, followed by Poland (18%) and Lithuania (21%).
Meanwhile, Malta topped the board for LGBTI rights, scoring more than 91% with positive steps over the past year, including the legalisation of same-sex marriage in July.
Belgium, Norway, the UK and Finland also received high scores for progressive LGBTI laws and policies.
However, ILGA-Europe noted that only 16 of the 49 countries assessed scored above 50%, with several countries historically seen as “equality trailblazers” failing to make any major advances in the past year.
“The perception that the state-of-play for LGBTI equality is 100% positive has been well and truly debunked. The work is far from being done,” the group told Euronews, as it called on governments to “fully back” progressive policies and laws and implement existing legislation.
“The incredible achievements of the past decade are at stake. Let’s not make the mistake of thinking that we have achieved equality,” said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis.
“There are too many signs that trends like populism and nationalism aren’t political buzzwords – they can have a lasting impact on the lives of LGBTI people in Europe.”