UK falls behind on LGBT+ rights for third year, says European study

·2-min read
Demonstrators take part in a Reclaim Pride March in London in July 2021 (Getty Images)
Demonstrators take part in a Reclaim Pride March in London in July 2021 (Getty Images)

The UK has fallen down the annual ranking of LGBT+ rights across Europe for the third year in a row.

In its yearly study of the legal and policy situation of LGBT+ people in 49 countries across Europe, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe), revealed that the UK, which led the table in 2015, has experienced the most dramatic drop in rankings, falling from 10th to 14th place.

The human rights organisation said that the drop comes at a time of “widespread political and media anti-trans sentiment”.

It also acknowledged the failure of Boris Johnson’s government to deliver a ban on conversion therapy for all and on long-promised reforms to gender recognition.

ILGA-Europe added that the UK lost points because its equalities watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was “not…effectively protecting on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity”.

The report also raised concern at the government’s decision to award charitable status to the anti-trans “hate group” the LGB Alliance, as well as Liz Truss’ drive to withdraw from Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme.

ILGA-Europe’s advocacy director Katrin Hugendubel said: “The situation in the UK is a sad reminder that when governments don’t stand strong on their commitments to advance minority rights, a powerful opposition can use that space to spread hate and division.”

The 2022 list names Azerbaijan as the worst country in Europe for LGBT+ rights and equality with a score of just 2.3 per cent.

In a close second, third, fourth and fifth place are Turkey (3.8 per cent), Armenia (7.5 per cent), Russia (10 per cent) and Poland (16 per cent).

At the other end of the spectrum, Malta (89 per cent) topped the ranking for the fifth year in a row, followed by Belgium and Luxembourg (both 73 per cent), Denmark and Norway (both 68 per cent), and Spain (67 per cent).

ILGA-Europe executive director Evelyne Paradis said: “LGBTI human rights and equality are a marker of a democratic society where the human rights and freedoms of all citizens are wholly respected and upheld.

“Recent history has taught us that one of the first steps towards erosion of democracy is the official scapegoating of LGBTI people and undermining of their human rights. This essentially is an act of targeting a vulnerable minority to undermine broader freedom.”

She added that some governments are taking “active measures” to target LGBT+ people during the pandemic.

“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,” she said.

ILGA-Europe is calling on governments across Europe to make LGBT+ equality a “high political priority” over the next year.

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