best places for queers in europe
best places for queers in europe

Pack Your Bag(pipe)s: The Best And Worst Places For Queers In Europe

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ILGA-Europe, a network of over 400 LGBTI organizations, recently released its annual Rainbow Europe index. The report ranks 49 countries’ attitudes using criteria ranging from workplace discrimination laws to the ease with which trans people can change their legal documents. Topping the list is the United Kingdom, specifically Scotland, which has a 92 percent approval rating based on overall freedoms in areas such as legal gender recognition, hate crime and non-discrimination protections, and laws protecting LGBTI families.

Scotland’s always been awesome — it’s the country that gave us the bicycle, Harris tweed, penicillin as an antibiotic, and Ewan McGregor — and it’s only getting better.

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Malta Pride Parade
(image via Malta Independent)

While the Scots voted last year to stick with the rest of the United Kingdom, they’re definitely more progressive than their neighbors to the south. The left-leaning (and queer-friendly) Scottish National Party won a landslide victory in this month’s elections, taking all but three of Scotland’s 59 seats in the British Parliament. Mhairi Black, a 20-year old student at Glasgow University, just became the youngest person elected to the British Parliament since 1667.

The UK had an 86 percent approval rating overall in this year’s Rainbow Europe report, followed by Belgium with 83 percent and the little islands of Malta with 77 percent. Malta beat out all the Scandinavian countries by making some really major advances just within the last year, notably when its parliament voted unanimously to include constitutional protections from discrimination based on gender identity. You might not have heard the news, since Malta’s not exactly a place you hear about very often.

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Azerbaijan Debuting At Eurovision, 2008 (image via
 Wikipedia)

At the other end of the spectrum is Azerbaijan, a country with a pretty terrible record overall when it comes to human rights and an overall LGBTI equality score of just five percent. In addition to backwards policies with regard to its queer citizens, the Azeri government have a terrible habit of imprisoning journalists.

Russia’s predictably low on the list as well (8 percent), while Armenia and Ukraine aren’t far behind at 9 and 10 percent, respectively.

The big surprise towards the bottom of the list is Monaco at 11 percent, the tiny country known for its glamorous casinos and formerly trendy royal family.

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Albert II of Monaco, Rumored For Decades To Be Gay, With His Mother in 1972 (image via Wikipedia)

Unlike France, Monaco’s only neighbor, the microstate has zero legal protections for LGBTI individuals. Furthermore, they don’t allow same-sex marriage or adoption, and have no provisions for hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity. With a population of only thirty thousand, it’s maybe forgivable that the country hasn’t held any recent Pride events aimed at the queer community. What’s less forgivable is that the country has only competed in three Eurovision contests since 1979.

The full Rainbow Europe report is here, along with lots of charts and facts and figures.