Britain was revealed as the gay rights capital of Europe, according to the first study of its kind to be published on Tuesday (15 May).
The European International Lesbian and Gay Association Europe (ILGA-Europe) index, which rates 49 countries on more than 40 categories, rated the UK as the top country for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to exercise their legal rights.
Britain allows same-sex couples to obtain a civil partnership, apply for joint adoption, and discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited.
Russia was bottom of the list after legalising an anti-gay law in St Petersburg, effectively making people criminals if they discuss homosexuality in public.
Other countries to place near the end of the list were Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Macedonia.
According to an ILGA-Europe spokesman, Scotland played a ‘leading role’ in the UK’s win. They said that hate crimes ‘aggravated’ by gender identity are explicitly recognised by Scottish law.
The Independent reports gay right’s charity Stonewall’s head of policy, Sam Dick, hailed Britain as a ‘beacon of equality to 400 million gay people around the world’.
However, he added: ‘We must not underestimate how much work there is yet to do – not least in securing marriage equality and tackling the endemic levels of homophobic bullying in schools.’
The UK government was recently slammed by LGBT rights charities for not including gay marriage in the Queen’s Speech, adding to the worries David Cameron might be backing down on the issue.
In a Sunday Times interview published today (13 May) with senior Conservative ministers Philip Hammond and Tim Loughton, they agreed with Chancellor George Osborne that gay marriage is not ‘the number one priority’.
Hammond told the newspaper that equal marriage was ‘too controversial’ for the Government to tackle at the moment, suggesting it would be ‘difficult to push through’.
Fighting prejudice against sexuality and gender identity through education will be the theme of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia which will be commemorated by almost 40 countries on 17 May.
To find out more about planned events visit the IDAHO May 17 Around the World webpage.