Warsaw, Poland – Poland has dropped to the bottom of the EU ranking in the latest “Rainbow Map” which ranks European countries on the basis of laws and policies that have a direct impact on the LGBT people’s human rights.
Produced by ILGA-Europe, a Brussels-based NGO that advocates for the rights of LGBT people, the map is based on its Rainbow Index which aims to give an overview of the legal situation and social climate for LGBT people in each European country.
LGBT rights: lowest ranking for Poland, biggest drop for Hungary
Based on 6 categories (equality and non-discrimination; family; hate crime and hate speech; legal gender recognition and bodily integrity; civil society space; and asylum), the index ranks all 49 European countries on a scale between 0% (gross violations of human rights, discrimination) and 100% (respect of human rights, full equality).
Poland was ranked second-worst in the bloc in last year’s index, but has now fallen past Latvia to bottom place with an index of only 16%, with only non-EU member states, such as Russia (10%), Turkey (4%) and last-place Azerbaijan (2%), being given lower scores.
Despite being the country with the most dramatic drop in its score, losing 8.46% points in relation to the suspended procedures for legal gender recognition and the lack of proper state protection at public events, Hungary still ranks the highest among the four Visegrad countries at 18th (33%), followed by Slovakia (30%) and the Czech Republic (26%), respectively 20th and 21st.
For the fifth year in a row, Malta (89%) tops the ranking. Belgium (73%) and Luxemburg (73%) comes second and third.
LGBT-free zones and hateful rhetoric
In its chapter on Poland, the report points to the “LGBT-free” zones and stickers controversy and the proposed laws to ban abortion and sex education in Poland. It notes that “hateful rhetoric from the government and the Church, and violence at Pride marches went hand-in-hand this year”.
It particularly condemns the ruling nationalist-conservative party, “which continuously used anti-LGBT rhetoric in the lead-up to the autumn elections”, as well as Krakow Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski, which called the LGBT movement a “rainbow plague”.
The report also notes some positive developments in the country, which include a record 24 pride marches in Poland last year, the fact that courts overturned attempts to ban marches in a number of cities, as well as the launch of the new progressive party Wiosna (Spring) by Poland’s first openly gay politician, Robert Biedron.
In order to improve the situation of LGBT people in Poland, ILGA-Europe recommends ensuring draft registered partnership legislation to recognise and protect same-sex couples is passed and implemented effectively, introducing hate speech and hate crime laws that explicitly cover all bias-motivated crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics, ensuring freedom of association for LGBT organisations to operate and LGBT human rights defenders are not at risk, and last but not, least, banning conversion therapy.
A rise in bias-motivated speech and violence
Despite being the highest ranked country in Central Europe, Hungary is also the European country with the most dramatic drop in its score, losing 8.46% points since 2019, mainly in relation to the suspended procedures for legal gender recognition and the lack of proper state protection at public events.
The chapter on Hungary lists the numerous bias-motivated violent incidents which were directed against the LGBT community in the country, with far-right militants occupying Auróra for three hours and a participant of this year’s Budapest Pride March being spat on and kicked in the stomach after the event.
In the Czech Republic, the reports notes a sharp increase in bias-motivated speech against LGBT people this year, including by politicians, a lack of information on LGBT rights and the continued discrimination experienced by LGBT people in schools, and an increased activity of civil society organisations actively working against the rights of LGBT people, such as the Alliance for Family and Pro-Life Movement.
ILGA-Europe nevertheless praises public efforts in support of same-sex marriage in the Czech Republic and highlights the fact that, while the annual Prague Pride took place in August, attracting 30,000 participants the first Pride March was also held in the third largest city Ostrava. The report also praises the fact that, despite the Slovak Ministry of Culture’s refusal for financial support, the Rainbow Pride in Bratislava still went ahead.