(© picture-alliance/Markus Schreiber)

  LGBT in Europe

  21 Debates

Greece has become the first Christian Orthodox country to allow civil marriage for same-sex couples after 176 of the 300 members of parliament voted in favour of a law proposed by Kyriakos Mitsotakis' conservative government on Thursday. The law faced fierce opposition from the Church.

Greece's conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wants to fulfil an election promise to introduce same-sex marriage in the country. The issue has triggered fierce debate in Greek society. The toughest opposition comes from the influential Orthodox Church, with some bishops even threatening MPs with excommunication.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in May that Romania must allow same-sex marriages or at least registered partnerships for homosexuals, giving Bucharest until March 2024 to present corresponding measures. However, the government is refusing to prioritise the issue on the grounds that the Romanian population rejects same-sex marriages.

The Russian judiciary has classified as extremist and banned what it calls an "international LGBT movement". This means that people can now be charged with supporting LGBT causes and sentenced to prison. In St. Petersburg on Friday, the TV music channel Aiva was fined around 5,000 euros for depicting same-sex love. What comes next?

On 28 June 1969, gays, lesbians, transgender and other queer people rose up in protest for the first time after the New York City police had repeatedly raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club on Christopher Street. The uprising triggered protests and Pride parades against the criminalisation of LGBTQI+ across the globe. June is now celebrated as Pride Month worldwide. The press takes a look at equality in Europe.

The legal extension of marriage to same-sex couples in Estonia was already part of the coalition negotiations between election winner Kaja Kallas' Reform Party, the Social Democrats and the centrist Estonia 200 party. The new government has introduced a proposal to this effect in parliament, where it is now the subject of heated debate. We take a look at the comments in the national press.

An attack on the LGBTI movement in Bratislava in which two homosexual men were shot dead last week has triggered a debate in Slovakia about improved legal protection for sexual minorities. Commentators are only cautiously optimistic that progress will finally be made in in this area.

A 19-year-old homophobic attacker shot two men and seriously injured a waitress outside a gay bar in the Slovak capital Bratislava on Wednesday evening. He then posted hate messages against sexual minorities on social media and committed suicide, according to the police. Commentators are appalled by the crime and voice fierce criticism of the social circumstances.

Pride Month was celebrated worldwide in June - but in some countries the celebrations are only just starting now. Stockholm Pride and Baltic Pride in Riga are taking place this week. A glance at the two countries' press shows how different the attitudes are in the two cities.

Hungary's Prime Minister Orbán wants to let citizens vote on the controversial anti-LGBT law that has led the EU to launch infringement proceedings against the country. Voters will be asked whether parents' consent should be necessary for sex education and whether minors should have access to information on homosexuality, transsexuality and gender reassignment treatments. All of this has nothing to do with child protection, commentators say.

On Saturday, International Day of Families, around 10,000 people took part in the Family Defence March in Vilnius to protest against current developments that they perceive as a threat to traditional family values, such as the Istanbul Convention and LGBT+ rights. A video speech delivered by President Gitanas Nausėda on the same day was interpreted by the organisers as a sign of support.

Estonia's LGBT community has been the target of attacks in the city of Pärnu in recent weeks. First people attending the screening of a film were insulted and filmed and then an LGBT outreach event was disrupted. The local branch of the far-right Ekre party, which forms part of the goverment in Tallinn, organised the demonstrations. Estonian media are deeply concerned.

Hungary's parliament has stripped homosexual couples of the right to adopt. "The mother is a woman, the father is a man," according to a resolution passed last Tuesday. Exceptions can only be granted by the Minister for Family Affairs. The ban has become one more in a series of restrictions imposed on LGBT people under the Orbán government. Commentators voice concern and outrage.

Polish president Duda has presented a family charter in the run-up to the presidential elections in late June. Among other things his goal is to defend marriage as a bond between men and women and to protect children "from the LGBT ideology". Observers believe this will be the dominant topic in the campaign of the national conservative ruling PiS party. With what implications?

Pride Month is celebrated in June, in particular in English-speaking and Latin countries. With parades and protests, the LGBTQ community celebrates social diversity and draws attention to continuing injustices. Many companies are presenting their logos in rainbow colours - but not in all countries. Commentators point to a lack of real commitment.

Several Polish municipal and county governments have passed resolutions proclaiming themselves as so-called "LGBT ideology-free zones". The EU Parliament had already condemned such declarations in December 2019. Now for the first time the EU Commission has rejected applications for local funding from the places concerned. Can Brussels stop discrimination with this approach?

In the town of Tukums in Latvia, a 29-year-old man was allegedly set on fire in a suspected homophobic hate crime. The man had received threats prior to the attack and had contacted the police, but they had failed to take action. Acceptance of sexual minorities is generally low in Latvia: most of its political parties and its influential Orthodox Church oppose any extension of their rights. The press finds the constellation worrying.

After the liberal-conservative coalition in Lithuania put the Istanbul Convention and a law on the legalisation of civil partnerships between LGBT people on the agenda in autumn, the debate has now escalated. LGBT opponents have threatened the openly gay chairman of the country's Human Rights Committee and collected 300,000 signatures to depose him. At the same time, Catholic priests are also under attack.

Hungary's ruling party Fidesz presented an "anti-paedophilia bill" on Tuesday which among other things prohibits the "representation and promotion" of homosexuality and transsexuality in school materials, books and films. Gender changes will also be banned for people under the age of 18. Perfidious methods with far-reaching consequences are at work here, commentators warn.

After the Hungarian parliament passed the "anti-paedophilia law", the debate over whether the rule of law in Hungary is compatible with its EU membership has gained new momentum. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the law a disgrace, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on Hungary to leave the bloc if its government can't respect LGBT rights. Europe's press also discusses whether tougher steps should now be taken.