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Scotland named best country in Europe for LGBTI legal equality

Scotland leads way in protections it offers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

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Gay rights campaigners have welcomed a report showing that Scotland is the best country in Europe for LGBTI legal equality.

The 2015 Rainbow Europe Index, was compiled by ILGA-Europe, an international human rights association.

According to the findings, Scotland now comes ahead of the rest of the UK and Europe in the legal protections it offers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

The annual index measures progress in European countries on LGBTI equality against 48 criteria; including legal protections from discrimination in work and services, measures to tackle hate crime, rights and recognition for transgender and intersex people, and equality in family law including same-sex marriage and parenting rights.

Following the legalisation of same-sex marriage last year, Scotland now meets 92% of the criteria, compared to 86% for the UK as a whole.

Scottish LGBTI equality and human rights charity The Equality Network, which released details of the European study, said the UK's overall figure was brought down by a "lack of protections for intersex people in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland's failure to respect LGBTI human rights in a range of areas including its refusal to legalise same-sex marriage".

The Equality Network welcomed Scotland's place at the top of the index, which it said was down to the Scottish Government and Parliament's willingness to consult properly with LGBTI people.

But the charity warned against complacency.

Policy and public affairs coordinator Tom French said: "The fact that Scotland now ranks best in Europe overall on LGBTI legal equality is welcome recognition for the efforts of campaigners and the willingness of our politicians to properly consult with LGBTI people and then act on the evidence by passing progressive measures.

"However, the Equality Network warns against any complacency, as we know there is still much more to do to achieve full equality for LGBTI people in Scotland.

"As ILGA's review shows there are still areas where Scotland is failing to respect LGBTI human rights and falling behind the progress in other countries, particularly when it comes to the rights of trans and intersex people.

"There is also a big difference between securing legal rights and full equality for LGBTI people in their everyday lives. Despite real progress in the law, LGBTI people in Scotland are still facing unacceptable levels of prejudice, discrimination and disadvantage throughout their lives."

Scotland is joined in the top five by the rest of the UK, Belgium (83%), Malta (77%), and Sweden (72%).

The five countries ranked worst for LGBTI legal equality in Europe were ranked as Azerbaijan (5%), Russia (8%), Armenia (9%), Ukraine (10%) and Monaco (11%).

ILGA-Europe represents 417 member organisations in 45 European countries.

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