World Pride is being celebrated on our continent this week, but a surge in intolerance towards LGBTI people in Europe is nothing to be proud about. In more and more European countries, politicians and public officials are shamelessly targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people for political gain, fuelling prejudice and hate. In so doing, public officials – sometimes at the highest level – are failing in their duty to promote equal dignity and human rights for all.
On the one hand, spectacular progress has been made in Europe in just a couple of decades: many Council of Europe member states have passed laws protecting LGBTI people from discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes; 30 member states offer protection for stable same-sex relationships; and the right to legal gender recognition has been strongly asserted. Overall, public attitudes towards LGBTI people have markedly improved in many places. At the same time, homo/transphobia continue to linger and to hinder LGBTI people’s full inclusion in society. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that too many within the LGBTI communities remain vulnerable, exposed to intra-familial violence and without proper access to employment, housing and health care.
The progress of the past years coupled with persisting homo/transphobia in our societies have now provided fertile ground for exploitation by opportunistic and anti-human rights political movements.