Abuse and hate speech against LGBTI people rises across Europe and Central Asia

There has been a “stark rise” in abuse and hate speech against LGBTI people in the Europe and Central Asia region, including from politicians, says a new report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in Europe (ILGA-Europe). The Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of LGBTI People in Europe and Central Asia 2021 shows the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic worsened the situation in the last year in multiple ways, from the use of emergency powers by governments – notably in Hungary – to hack away at trans rights, to the exclusion of LGBTI people from coronavirus support packages. “In reports from country after country, we see a stark rise in abuse and hate speech against LGBTI people,” said Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe. “There has been a resurgence of authorities and officials using LGBT people as scapegoats while authoritarian regimes are empowered to isolate and legislate without due process. Overall, there has been a crackdown on democracy and civil society, and not just in Poland and Hungary, which made all the headlines in 2020.“ “The ILGA-Europe Annual Review 2021 shows a significant growth of opposition towards trans rights across Europe, which is beginning to have a wide and negative impact on legal gender recognition,” said Katrin Hugendubel, advocacy director at ILGA-Europe. “There is legal regression and stagnation in 19 countries, many of which have seen opposition forces become louder, saying that advancing the protection against discrimination and self-determination for trans people would harm women’s rights or ‘the protection of minors’.” Among the 19 countries that have seen regression in this area are Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia, along with several Western European countries.