LGBT discrimination in Europe’s margins

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Two leading gay rights groups have compiled a report into the serious situation gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people face in two countries aspiring to join the EU.

The ILGA-Europe and COC Netherlands study of the position of LGBT People in Georgia and Azerbaijan concludes that the South Caucasian nations must stop discrimination and incitement to hatred.

They are also urged to put in place an inclusive anti-discrimination law in line with Council of Europe and EU standards.

The reports are the result of a joint fact-finding mission and reflect the vulnerable social and legal situation of LGBT people.

They put a particular focus to lesbian and bisexual women and transgender people.

They also give examples of human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In Georgia a high level of hostility towards same-sex relationships and diverse gender identities prevails in virtually every aspect of society.

Many believe them to be a disease, some see them as a sin, others as a perversion.

The human rights of LGBT people are opposed by some prominent human rights defenders and other high-level figures.

Stigmatisation is so pervasive that most LGBT people are forced out of communities, deprived of any chance to openly express their sexual orientation or gender identity, and suffer from discrimination and hate crimes.

In Azerbaijan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are not invisible in the predominantly Muslim society.

Tens of transgender sex workers go into the main street of the capital city Baku every night, prominent showbiz figures barely hide their sexual orientation, mass media gives more space every day to the subject of sexual orientation and gender identities.

And yet one should not be misled by this relative visibility: there is a price of estrangement from family, bullying, social exclusion, discrimination, blackmailing and hate crimes attached to it.

The reports seek to raise awareness of European and international organisations, put pressure for positive change on national governments and encourage donors to support LGBT groups organising in these countries.

Patricia Prendiville, executive director of ILGA-Europe, said:

“The reports illustrate the vulnerable position of LGBT communities and the systematic nature of human rights violations against them.

“This situation runs against Georgia and Azerbaijan’s obligations under the European Convention for Human Rights and against European Union laws and values these countries have to respect if they aspire to EU membership in the future.”

Frank van Dalen, president of COC Netherlands, added:

“Upon completion of the fact-finding mission to South Caucasus, COC Netherlands with ILGA-Europe and other partners has started a five-year project aimed at strengthening LGBT movements in the newly-independent states and prevention of HIV/AIDS in this community.

“First results give very positive hopes: where there has been hardly any movement before now there are strong, registered NGOs advocating for human rights and social equality and providing a range of services for the community.”

To read the reports click here.