The Worrying Regression Of LGBT Rights In Eastern Europe

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12/23/2021

From physical attacks to online abuse and legislative setbacks, the LBGT community in Central and Eastern Europe had little to cheer about in 2021. Populist governments in Poland, Hungary, and elsewhere were able to exploit frustrations and fears, some stoked by church leaders, some by the grinding COVID-19 pandemic, to push through anti-LGBT legislation. It was, however, part of a wider trend over a wider swath of Europe, argues Evelyne Paradis, executive director of the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe). “Poland and Hungary are not anomalies. In the past year, we’ve seen increased political repression against LGBT people, a stark rise in socioeconomic hardship, and the spreading of LGBT-phobic hatred on the streets and online across the region,” Paradis told RFE/RL in e-mailed comments. Low points of the year included an attack on a LGBT community center in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, led by a far-right leader who ran in the country’s presidential election; a new law in Hungary banning information in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change; and several so-called “LGBT-ideology free zones” continued to operate in Poland.

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