Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, Europe has grown together. Countries which didn’t even exist as independent states back then are now member states of EU and NATO. The European Union reaches all the way to the Gulf of Finland and the Black Sea. Erasmus students move around all of Europe to
study party. Trade is flourishing. The European Union wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
So everything is great, the continent united, with freedom flourishing everywhere?
Unfortunately not. Because in one important aspect, Europe is still divided into east and west. Like the erstwhile Iron Curtain, there is a line across Europe, beyond which civil rights are not well respected, where people are treated worse, and sometimes suffer right-out abuse, because of their personal characteristics. The rights of homosexuals, the great civil rights issue of our time, separates the continent like freedom of the press and freedom of speech once did.
ILGA, the international association working for equal rights for gays and lesbians, bi- and transsexuals, has published an index showing the implementation of equal rights for homosexuals (as of May 2013).
Within Europe, the east and the southeast of the continent clearly have some catching up to do, even among countries within the EU. My own experience in Lithuania confirms this. Germany has an average rating, which is not exactly anything to be proud of when comparing it with the other western EU member states.
But what really shocked me was the ranking of Italy, where I currently live. Among the large western-European states, Italy is the only major negative outlier, lying not only at but even below the level of eastern Europe. If even non-EU countries like Georgia, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania offer a higher level of equal rights, then something is foul in Italy.
(Diesen Artikel gibt es auch auf Deutsch.)