For all the anti-equality campaigns by some politicians and right-wing religious groups, United Kingdom has been chosen as the best place in Europe for gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in terms of legal rights, according to a study by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Europe.
Coming just days before the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), in the first study of its kind, the ILGA Europe index rates 49 countries in the continent on more than 40 different categories. However, social and cultural attitudes are not considered in the report.
Britain’s place at the top is predominantly owing to its recognition of civil partnerships for same-sex couples, and its anti-discrimination laws. A spokesperson for ILGA Europe told the Independent that Scotland played a ‘leading role’ in UK’s success, pointing out that hate crimes ‘aggravated’ by gender identity are explicitly recognised in the Scottish legislature.
Meanwhile, Russia and Moldova came at the bottom of the rankings, along with Ukraine, Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Macedonia, Monaco, and surprisingly for some, Lichtenstein. The report notes with disdain St Petersburg’s recent introduction of the so-called anti-propaganda law, which penalises the distribution of material about and campaigns for gay or trans rights. Veteran gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev became the first to be convicted under this law.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said in a statement that she was “delighted” with the news, seeing Britain “leading the way” and “breaking new ground.” She said that the coalition’s consultation on equal marriage and ‘the world’s first transgender action plan’ were part of the same push for equal rights.
Sam Dick, Stonewall’s head of policy, told the Independent that Britain was a “beacon of equality to 400 million gay people around the world,” adding: “We must not underestimate how much work there is yet to do – not least in securing marriage equality and tackling the endemic levels of homophobic bullying in schools.”