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Hungary and Poland not the only European countries found wanting on LGBT rights, says ILGA Europe

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By Euronews
Hungary and Poland not the only European countries found wanting on LGBT rights, says ILGA Europe

Hungary and Poland are not the only European countries found wanting when it comes to LGBT rights, it's been claimed.

Both countries are regularly criticised for not supporting such communities.

But Belinda Dear, an advocacy officer for ILGA Europe, told Euronews that some other countries also had questions to answer.

"It's not only the countries where you have governments that deliberately attack LGBT rights, but it's also quite often seen in countries where they think that they have done everything like, 'we have done so much for LGBT rights - we are going now to move on to something else'," Dear told Euronews.

"But often actually, what is happening, is a lot of protections [are being given] on the grounds of sexual orientation, but not so much of the grounds of gender identity or sexual characteristics. That's why it's quite a mixed picture in Europe, instead of that false binary between west and east."

Dear added that this is in part due to the rise in online hate speech.

"While the internet is indeed very helpful for LGBT people connecting and increasing awareness about LGBT issues and reaching the rural areas, at the same time, on the flip side of the coin, you have this kind of connection of hatred across the internet, which means that if it's happening anywhere in Europe, then it's happening in other countries," Dear said.

ILGA Europe does say, however, that at least 15 European countries are currently working on legislation related to LGBT rights.

The Italian parliament is one of these. It is currently debating a bill that wants to add crimes against LGBT people to its list of hate crimes. The proposed legislation is receiving fierce opposition from the church and right-wing parties.

In Spain, a country that tends to be open in terms of LGBT rights, a new law related to trans people is also facing strong resistance.

Podemos, the leftist party promoting it, says it is a "giant leap" for the rights of trans people.

Ángela Rodríguez Pam, an adviser to the Ministry of Equality in Spain, told Euronews that the legislation is essential for the advancement of LGBT rights.

"In Spain today a two-year hormone treatment is necessary so that trans people can change their sex and with this law what we would be doing is that only the will of that person to change their sex is necessary and then they could declare it before the civil registry," Rodríguez Pam said.

"Within three months they could change their sex and of course their name. And we believe that this is a very important advance that is in line with what has been said both by different European bodies and at an international level... even by the WHO (World Health Organization)."

But Rosa Estaràs, from the centre-right People's Party in Spain, says she is concerned that people can just change their gender from one day to the next.

"It seems that with a process of four months, one can decide their gender. Therefore it is what they have called gender self-determination and in a period of four months, one can change gender without the intervention of doctors, the medical sector, without the intervention of practically anybody," Estaràs told Euronews.