Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Independent: Malta ranks among the best countries for LGBTi rights

Tuesday, 27 May 2014, 11:27 , by Duncan Barry

Malta has made vast improvement in terms of LGBTi rights, scoring an additional 22 percentage points over the previous year’s score of thirty five per cent, a survey carried out by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) earlier this month, has found.

The annual Rainbow Europe Survey ranked the United Kingdom and Belgium as the best places for LGBTi rights. The UK came first with a tally of 82 per cent while Belgium placed second (78 per cent).

Without doubt, Russia ranked among the lowest while Italy garnered 25 per cent.

Launched to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May, the survey showed that the European average for LGBTI rights stands at 36 per cent – with the average for EU countries only slightly higher at 46 per cent.

But vast improvements were seen in Malta, which had a score of 22 points higher than in last year’s survey (now 57 per cent), and Montenegro, which was up by 20 points, meaning that since the last survey, Malta was one of the fastest climbers.

The fact that the Civil Unions Bill was approved in parliament last month must have helped the fact that Malta ranked higher than the previous year in the survey.

The survey however highlighted a few negative trends in Europe such as new forms of criminalisation of LGBTI people were increasing through the spread of anti-propaganda laws, with some countries adopting laws and policies to restrict their human rights such as Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Latvia and Ukraine while pointing out that despite a growing consensus on marriage equality, Europe was also witnessing the emergence of movements against marriage equality (France) and in favour of legal bans to pre-empt future changes of definitions of marriage (Croatia, Slovakia).

The survey also highlighted that homophobic and transphobic violence remains high and is often fuelled and validated by some political and religious authorities, with violence against trans people remaining particularly of great concern along with discrimination which occurs virtually in all countries and in all spheres of lives of LGBTI people.

Gabi Calleja, co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s executive board, was quoted as saying that “ILGA-Europe’s 2014 edition of its Rainbow Europe package shows that while the human rights of LGBTI people have undoubtedly gained great visibility across Europe, progress in terms of real legal, political and social changes vary considerably from one country to another, in large part depending on levels of societal acceptance, of political leadership and political will, as well as the strength of civil society in a given country.”

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