UK best place in Europe for LGBT rights

The Rainbow Index gave the UK an equality mark of 86%

Scotland tops gay rights league table
Crowds cheer and wave flags during the annual Pride London Parade which highlights issues of the gay, lesbian and transgender community, in London July 4, 2009.Luke MacGregor/ REUTERS

The UK is the best place in Europe to live as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, according to a new survey released yesterday.

On the back of same-sex marriage legislation taking effect last year, the UK scored 86% according to the Rainbow Index, which ranks countries in terms of equality offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

The index is produced by ILGA-Europe, the European branch of a worldwide campaign group established almost 30 years ago to demand equal rights for LGBTI people.

However, the group warned that the European average was 42% and that LGBTI people face gross violations of human rights in several European countries, particularly in eastern Europe.

The Rainbow Index rates countries according to 48 criteria, including marriage equality, policies to tackle hate speech, legal recognition of transgender people and adoptive rights for LGBTI couples.

Scotland outperformed the UK as a whole, scoring 92% overall. The Scottish activist group the Equality Network said the UK's figure was brought down by "a lack of protections for intersex people and Northern Ireland's failure to respect LGBTI human rights in a range of areas including its refusal to legalise same-sex marriage."

At the other end of the scale, Russia and Ukraine are some of the worst places to be LGBTI in Europe, scoring 8% and 10% respectively.

Moscow passed a law in 2013 banning homosexual "propaganda" and a Pew Research Centre poll found that 74% of Russians believed homosexuality was unacceptable in 2013, an 14% increase on 2002 figures. During pro-homosexuality protests ahead of the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian president Vladimir Putin stoked tensions by saying gay people were welcome at the games so long as they didn't seek to influence children with their sexuality.

LGBTI citizens in Ukraine face discrimination in the realms of employment, marriage equality and gender identity, according to the index. A 2013 poll conducted by the Ukrainian Gay Alliance and Ukrainian State Sociological Institute found that 63% of Ukrainians considered homosexuality to be a "perversion" or a "mental disease".

The worst country was Azerbaijan, which got a mark of just 5%.

Malta climbed eight places to third in the index with a score of 77%, behind Belgium on 83%. The Maltese parliament afforded equal recognition to same-sex partnerships as heterosexual marriage in 2014, which included giving gay couples adoption rights.

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