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10 May 2015   |    News

Scotland rated best country in Europe for LGBTI legal equality

The Equality Network has welcomed the news that Scotland is now rated the best country in Europe for LGBTI legal equality, by ILGA-Europe (the European Region of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association).

According to ILGA-Europe’s annual review of LGBTI equality and human rights laws across the continent, published today, Scotland now comes ahead of the rest of the UK and other countries in Europe in the legal protections offered to LGBTI people.

The ‘Rainbow Europe Index’ measures progress in European countries on LGBTI equality against a 48-point criteria that includes legal protections from discrimination in employment and services, measures to tackle hate crime, rights and recognition for transgender and intersex people, and equality in family law including same-sex marriage and parenting rights.

Following the legalisation of same-sex marriage last year, Scotland now meets 92% of ILGA Europe’s criteria, compared to 86% for the UK as a whole. The UK’s overall figure is brought down by lack of protections for intersex people in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland’s failure to respect LGBTI human rights in a range of areas including its refusal to legalise same-sex marriage.

The documents made public by ILGA-Europe show a composite score for the whole UK, which is calculated by assessing each part of the UK that has its own laws (England & Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) and combining the results. The figure of 92% is based on ILGA-Europe’s assessment of the laws and policies for Scotland.

The Equality Network welcomes the recognition of the progress made in Scotland, which is down to the efforts of campaigners and also to the Scottish Government and Parliament’s willingness to properly consult with LGBTI people and pass progressive legislation. However, we would also warn against any complacency as we know there is still much more to do in order to achieve full equality for LGBTI people in Scotland.

Tom French, Policy and Public Affairs Coordinator for the Equality Network, said; “The fact that Scotland now ranks best in Europe overall on LGBTI legal equality is welcome recognition for the efforts of campaigners and the willingness of our politicians to properly consult with LGBTI people and then act on the evidence by passing progressive measures. However, the Equality Network warns against any complacency, as we know there is still much more to do to achieve full equality for LGBTI people in Scotland. As ILGA’s review shows there are still areas where Scotland is failing to respect LGBTI human rights and falling behind the progress in other countries, particularly when it comes to the rights of trans and intersex people. There is also a big difference between securing legal rights and ensuring full equality for LGBTI people in their everyday lives. Despite real progress in the law, LGBTI people in Scotland are still facing unacceptable levels of prejudice, discrimination and disadvantage throughout their lives.”

Scotland is joined in ILGA-Europe’s ranking of the top five countries for LGBTI legal equality by the rest of the UK (86%), Belgium (83%), Malta (77%), and Sweden (72%). The five countries ranked worst for LGBTI legal equality in Europe include Azerbaijan (5%), Russia (8%), Armenia (9%), Ukraine (10%) and Monaco (11%). With a few exceptions, the human rights of LGBTI people are generally better respected in Western Europe than Central Europe, and are least protected in Eastern Europe.

It is worth noting though, that while Scotland is ahead of other countries in many areas of LGBTI legal equality we still have some way to go to achieve full legal equality. In particular other European countries such as Malta are ahead of Scotland in best practice on transgender and intersex rights, with more progressive gender recognition laws and better protections for intersex rights.

Last year the Equality Network launched our Equal Recognition campaign, which calls on the Scottish Government to ensure better legal protections for transgender and intersex people. You can support the campaign and find out more information here.

Further information about the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Europe Index 2015 can be found through the following links:

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