The UK is no longer the best country in Europe on LGBT rights, after topping the rankings for four years in a row.
For four years, rights group ILGA-Europe has put the United Kingdom at the top of its extensive rankings system on LGBT equality.
Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly cited the UK’s ranking in the past, saying just two months ago: “Together we should be proud to live in a country judged to be the best place in Europe if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans.”
However, for the first time ever this week, the UK has been toppled from the number one spot on the Rainbow Europe ranking – as other countries gain ground and pass more progressive legislation.
Malta is now ranked #1 on LGBT rights, with a score of 89% across a selection of nearly forty criteria, while the UK lags in second on 86%.
The move comes following a raft of changes in Malta – which saw a boost after becoming the first country to outlaw surgery on intersex babies, introducing LGBT-inclusive education, and beginning civil unions.
The rankings show that the UK is failing on a number of issues – losing points for not protecting gender expression in anti-discrimination laws, not allowing asylum on the grounds of gender identity, requiring trans people to get medical opinions before legally changing their gender, and permitting ‘corrective’ surgery on intersex children.
Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee is currently carrying out a broad review of trans issues – though the government has ruled out an ‘Irish-style’ system of gender recognition, where changing your legal gender is as simple as renewing a passport.
Same-sex marriage is not yet legal in Malta, though ILGA notes it also remains banned in Northern Ireland in the UK.
Malta’s PM Joseph Muscat has taken to Twitter to welcome the news.