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UK drops again in ILGA Europe’s ranking for LGBTQ rights

ILGA Europe says the drop comes "at a time of widespread political and media anti-trans sentiment" in some parts of Europe.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels

The UK has fallen down again in ILGA Europe’s ranking of countries based on their record of LGBTQ rights.

In the latest Rainbow Map published by the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association on Thursday (12 May) the UK slid to 14th place after dropping to 10th place in 2021. 

The UK, which dropped 11 percentage points, was one of a number of countries to see such a slide while others formed a movement pushing for greater LGBTQ rights and equality. 

“A time of widespread political and media anti-trans sentiment”

Regarding the UK’s position in the ranking, ILGA Europe points to the UK’s equalities watchdog not “effectively protecting on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has been the subject of a number of negative reports of late which include claims staff are quitting over increasing transphobia in the organisation, and that it has met with anti-trans groups

ILGA Europe says: “This comes at a time of widespread political and media anti-trans sentiment”, referencing here the UK Government dropping plans to a complete and inclusive ban on ‘conversion therapy’, as well as reform to the Gender Recognition Act. 

On Tuesday (10 May) the government included plans for a ‘conversion therapy’ ban in the Queen’s Speech but these were significantly watered down from previous plans by excluding trans people.

ILGA-Europe’s Advocacy Director, Katrin Hugendubel says: “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.”

ILGA Europe ranks 49 European countries in its annual Rainbow Map. 

Among the other countries to see a drop in ranking were Bulgaria and Romania after a rise in anti-LGBTQ sentiment. Hungary dropped three places, which is mainly put down to the introduction of homophobic laws such as the one passed in 2021 effectively banning the promotion of LGBTQ issues to under-18s.

Hugendubel adds: “A downward spiral of hostile political discourse, legislative stagnation and, in some countries, even withdrawal of LGBTI rights and freedoms is worrying.”

In contrast to these negative moves, Denmark has moved up seven spaces to the number two spot after introducing an equal treatment law, and including sexuality and gender identity as aggravating factors in hate crime.

Iceland was awarded points because of its legislative recognition of trans parenthood, while Germany introduced a ban on intersex genital mutilation and France banned ‘conversion therapy’ based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director, Evelyne Paradis says: “It is encouraging to see that several governments actively chose to take real action over the past 12 months to progress LGBTI equality, and as a result, that the Rainbow Map looks positively different compared to this time last year.”

She welcomes the positive direction some governments appear to be taking when it comes to LGBTQ rights adding, “More is definitely needed to strengthen this upward dynamic in the coming year.”

The Attitude May/June issue is out now.