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Map shows legal status of gays across Europe

Ramsey DeHani July 23, 2009
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A map has been released to show the legal status of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Europe, revealing some disturbing trends within the eastern European bloc.

It has been drawn up by the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe).

The map shows a clear split between east and west, with eight eastern European countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Poland banning gay Pride marches in the last ten years.

One territory, Northern Cyprus, still criminalises consenting sexual acts between adult men.

Greece and Cyprus still have unequal ages of consent, along with the British territories of Guernsey and Gibraltar, despite the UK bringing the age down to 16 in 2000.

This inequality of consent still exists despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in 1997 (in the case of ‘Sutherland vs the United Kingdom’) which ruled that a higher age of consent for gays than for heterosexuals was a breach of Articles 8 and 14 of the convention.

There are, however, some discrepancies on the chart. Kosovo codified anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of ‘sexual orientation’ in Article 24 of its constitution, which came into effect in June 2008.

Jersey has also equalised its age of consent to 16, bringing the age for sodomy down in 2007. Jersey was the last of the United Kingdom territories to decriminalise same-sex relations, with “sodomie” being illegal for both men and women until 1990.

Out of a total of 50 countries and territories included, it was found that 25 countries and five territories ban sexual orientation discrimination in employment and access to good and services, with Sweden, Kosovo and Portugal being the only three countries to refer to sexual orientation in their constitutional anti-discrimination provisions.

Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands were found to come top for LGB rights.

It was also found that 13 countries and two territories allow same-sex partnerships, with a further two recognising cohabitation rights without any rights to partnership.

Spain, Norway, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands are the only countries that allow same sex couples to fully marry.

Nine countries entitle same-sex partners to apply for joint adoption.

The map contains an interesting panoramic view of the gay rights situation and Europe, and the countries that have produced both good and bad track records in LGB rights.

Click here to view the map in full

Related topics: Europe

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