Henry Kirby in London -
A recent study into the legal and policy rights of gay people across Europe has shown serious shortcomings in Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) countries compared with their Western European counterparts.
The study, by ILGA-Europe (the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) provides a snapshot of what happened during 2014, at national, regional and international levels, documenting progress and trends regarding the human rights situation of LGBTI people. Countries were scored from 0-100, with low scores denoting poor rights records.
Azerbaijan‘s score of 5 was the lowest in the index this year, with ILGA-Europe describing LGBTI individuals as being “almost invisible within a highly repressive society” and facing a “daunting” situation.
Slovenia saw the largest fall in their index score ranking, dropping six places to 26th in 2015, with a score of 31.5. The Slovenian Supreme Court in 2014 annulled convictions for individuals who were found guilty of attacking an LGBTI venue and assaulting an LGBTI activist.
The most improved CEE/CIS country was Georgia, which climbed nine places to 22nd in the study, with a score of 35.8. Its EU aspirations may well have played a role in this change of attitude, with the country signing a free trade and association deal with the bloc in 2014. A key factor in their score increase was the adoption by the Georgian parliament of an anti-discrimination bill – a month before that Association Agreement was signed.
Despite being the most improved CEE/CIS nation in the study, Georgia’s score of 35.8 still lagged considerably behind the Western Europe average score of 51.6. The CEE/CIS average was even lower, at 26.3 – just over half the Western Europe average.
The results of the study were a stark contrast to a similar survey, released earlier in May. International gay community website PlanetRomeo’s Gay Happiness Index 2015 surveyed 115,000 respondents across the globe to create an aggregate index score of ease of living for gay men in different countries.
While CEE/CIS again fell short of Western European scores in the Gay Happiness Index (GHI), the difference between the regions was far less pronounced. Kyrgyzstan registered the lowest score, at 21.8, while the Czech Republic achieved the highest score in the region, with 66.4, bettering the Western Europe average of 64.3. The CEE/CIS average of 38.4 was lower than the world average of 45.2 and considerably lower than the Western Europe average of 64.3.
Many CEE/CIS countries performed worse in the GHI than they did in the Rainbow Europe Index, suggesting that problems facing gay individuals in these countries are more cultural than institutional. Despite topping the CEE/CIS chart in the GHI, the Czech Republic ranks sixth in the CEE/CIS ranking for the Rainbow Europe Index. Similarly, Slovenia, which ranked second out of all CEE/CIS countries in the GHI, ranked ninth in the Rainbow Europe Index.
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