Malta retains top spot for ‘Rainbow Europe’ rights, campaigners say

New momentum has emerged in protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ communities across Europe, but significant challenges remain and young people are particularly vulnerable, campaigners said on Thursday.

Malta retained its top spot on the “Rainbow Europe” for 2022 for respect for human rights and full equality, while Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia and Armenia were bottom of the ranking among 49 countries compiled by ILGA-Europe, an umbrella organization for 600 rights groups. Denmark, France, Iceland and Montenegro also moved up the rankings, according to the report released on Thursday. The UK slipped for falling behind on its reform promises, while Bulgaria and Romania were close to having the lowest rankings in the EU along with Poland.

“After a complete stagnation last year, which worried us extraordinarily, there is a new upward momentum,” said Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA Europe. “As you hear us speak of some signs of optimism, our call today is to redouble our efforts to ensure a renewed mobilization, focused on action, not just words,” Paradis said during the an annual forum of European governments and civil society groups. In Cyprus.

Young people were still particularly vulnerable. A report by IGLYO, the international organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) youth and students, said there had been a “complete halt” to inclusion efforts in the schools. One in two LGBTQI learners in Europe have been bullied at school, while anti-propaganda laws introduced in five European countries have prevented learners from receiving inclusive content in schools, says IGLYO’s Bella FitzPatrick .

“I think it’s very appropriate that a lot of the advances we’ve made in our community over the last 10 to 15 years are really about adults. But a lot of the backlash is aimed directly at young people. Of the cases, the schools aren’t that different from what they were 20 years ago. They (kids) are still being bullied. They’re still being beaten,” FitzPatrick said.

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Helen D. Jessen