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ILGA international ranks Malta #1 in Europe for LGBTQ rights

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Photo by Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters
Photo by Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters

Malta is number one in Europe for LGBTQ rights and inclusion, according to the latest rankings from ILGA-Europe, an umbrella organization for more than 600 LGBTQ and human rights advocacy groups.

The small island nation of half a million people, situated near Sicily in the Mediterranean, also topped previous ILGA-Europe ratings.

Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, and Armenia came last in the rankings of 49 countries.

Denmark, France, Iceland, and Montenegro rose in the rankings over previous reports. The United Kingdom's rating slipped, however, with Boris Johnson's Tory government falling behind on its promises for reform.

Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland were close to the bottom of the chart, but a little above the lowest rankings in the EU.

According to ILGA-Europe, there is cause for some optimism.

"After complete stagnation last year, which was extraordinarily worrying to us, there is a new upward dynamic," Evelyne Paradis, the executive director of ILGA-Europe, said in a statement.

"While you hear us speak of some signs of optimism, our call today is one of redoubling efforts to make sure there is renewed mobilization, one focused on action, not just words," Paradis told an annual forum of European government and civil society groups meeting in Cyprus last month.

While adult LGBTQ people may see some advances in legal protections, young people were still particularly vulnerable, ILGA-Europe warned.

One report by IGLYO, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) Youth and Student Organisation, said there had been a "complete standstill" in inclusion efforts in schools.

One in two LGBTQ students in Europe had experienced bullying at school, while "Don't Say Gay" laws introduced in five European nations made it impossible for students to receive inclusive content in schools, IGLYO's Bella FitzPatrick said.

"I think it's very apt that many of the advances we have achieved in our community over the past 10-15 years really pertain to adults. But much of the backlash is aimed squarely at youth. It's really important to remember that in a lot of cases, schools aren't that different from what they were 20 years ago. [Children] are still being bullied. They are still being beaten up," FitzPatrick said.