Advocates of sexual and gender minority rights participated in the Helsinki Pride event on 29 June 2013. A report published on Friday by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) indicates that Finland has fallen further behind other European countries in the promotion of the rights of sexual and gender minorities.

The ILGA in its report ranks European countries according to how sexual and gender minorities are taken into consideration in legislation and official measures.

In the Rainbow Europe report, Finland is ranked as the 17th best country in Europe for sexual and gender minorities, signalling a decline of 3 spots from 2013 and 5 spots from 2012.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom was ranked number one in the continent, the country meeting 82 per cent of the criteria set by the ILGA. Finland, in contrast, only met 45 per cent of the criteria, which incorporate anti-discrimination laws, equal marriage rights and access to gender re-assignment operations.

In addition, the ILGA examined the number of hate crimes directed at sexual and gender minorities, and the equality of legislation and practices in every European country.

Although the support for equal marriage rights continues to increase across Europe, movements opposing same-sex marriages have emerged in for example France, the report highlights.

The relatively low score of Finland is chiefly associated with the country's conditions for legal gender recognition, explains SETA, a non-governmental association promoting sexual and gender equality. SETA also views that the protection against discrimination is insufficient in Finland.

Aija Salo, the secretary general at SETA, consequently urges Finnish decision-makers to take action to create a more equal society.

“The Finnish Government must pull itself together. Reforms have been postponed, although comparisons show that elsewhere in Europe swift measures have been taken to improve the rights of minorities,” she highlights.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Aleksi Tuomola / Lehtikuva