Malta has extended its lead as the best place in Europe for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights.

The country now meets 91% of the tests laid out by ILGA-Europe in its annual Rainbow Europe Index. The tiny Mediterranean island has now held the top spot on the Index since 2016 after it introduced world-leading rights for intersex people.

It further bolstered its position by introducing marriage equality in the past year, while many other countries have stagnated on progress towards better equality for LGBTI people.

ILGA-Europe rank all 49 European countries laws and policies on a scale across 6 categories which have a direct impact on LGBTI people’s lives.

The UK is ranked 4th in the 2018 Index, behind Belgium, Norway and Malta. Belgium made significant changes to their gender recognition laws in the past year, moving ahead of the UK overall.

Scotland is not ranked separately from the UK, however would place 2nd based on current laws and policies.

Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, Evelyn Paradis, said:

“Against a backdrop of backlash on human rights across Europe, how can states possibly think the work on LGBTI equality is finished? The incredible achievements of the past decade are at stake. Lets not make the mistake of thinking we have achieved equality. There are too many signs that trends like populism and nationalism aren’t political buzzwords – they can have a lasting impact on the lives of LGBTI people in Europe. There are too many signs around us that many of the recent wins are fragile. So let me say it again – we are nowhere near done.”

The Scottish Government have promised improvements to gender recognition laws here, conducting a public consultation earlier this year. A review of hate crime policy is also underway north of the border, which could impact the Index in the future.

The continuing veto of marriage equality in Northern Ireland by the DUP remains one of the key challenges in ensuring domestic equality for LGBTI people here, with the party refusing to back Sinn Fein calls to bring the country into line with the rest of the UK.

You can read the full analysis of the 2018 Rainbow Europe Index here.

2018 ILGA-Europe Index ranking

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