To mark this year’s International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) has published its Rainbow Europe Map and Index in which it rates each European country’s laws and administrative practices according to 24 categories and ranks them on a scale between 17 (highest score: respect of human rights and full legal equality of LGBT people) and -7 (lowest score: gross violations of human rights and discrimination of LGBT people).
While the publication of this kind of research is broadly to be welcomed, and as eye-catching as the rainbow map is, it may be considered problematic in its conflation of LGB and TS/TG issues. As Justus Eisfeld (co-director GATE – Global Action for Trans* Equality) points out:
There are 5 possible positive points to be gained for gender identity issues vs. 13 possible points in the sexual orientation categories (I counted freedom of assembly and freedom of association under sexual orientation because trans groups generally have not had the organizational capacity to even run into issues in this category yet). The negative points are similarly unequally spread: two possible negative points for gender identity (two negative points are mutually exclusive, I therefore counted them as one) and four for sexual orientation. This means that a country that scores well for sexual orientation will automatically be in the ‘best’ group, no matter what their human rights record is for trans people.
In the light of this, the separate indexes for gender identity and sexual orientation may perhaps be of more use.
Note that intersections of race, class, disability, etc, are not mentioned in the report; nor is it recorded whether subjects are binary or non-binary identified. It should also be remembered that some TS/TG people are also LGB, and vice versa. Last but by no means least, it should be noted that – as is so often the case with research of this nature – the situation of intersex people seems to have been entirely ignored.
Click the thumbnail image for full-size PDF
By way of a counterpoint, Trans Murder Monitoring has launched an interactive map for IDAHOT 2011. The new interactive map for the first time visualises the 604 reported murders of trans people that the Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project has documented since January 2008. The interactive TMM map can be accessed on the TvT website here.
In the first four and a half months of 2011, 55 reported murders of trans people have been registered in 19 countries. While the actual circumstances of the killings often remain obscure, due to a lack of investigations and reports, many of the documented cases involve extreme aggression, including torture and mutilation.
Click the thumbnail image to visit the interaactive map at the TMM website
Although it may seem that sexual orientation and gender identity is less of an issue it becomes clear that homophobia and transphobia exists, and may be increasing, in many places. If today’s International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia serves one purpose, it is to raise awareness regarding the ongoing discrimination and violence committed by states, societies and individuals against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people on various scales, from homophobic and transphobic legislations and forms of state repression to hate crimes including insults, attacks and murders.