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LGBT+ rights: Finland ranks 4th on European Rainbow Map

Rights group ILGA-Europe, which compiled the rankings, noted a "backslide" of rights protections around the world.

File photo of Helsinki Pride March in June 2018. Image: Berislav Jurišić / Yle

Finland was ranked as having the fourth-best laws and policies in the world that protect the rights of the LGBT+ community, according to ILGA-Europe advocacy group.

The group examined 49 European countries in its 10th index this year. Compared to last year, Finland's ranking went up a notch from fifth, but it still trailed Malta, Belgium and Luxembourg - the top-three ranking nations.

According to the rights group, the list's rankings are based on: equality and non-discrimination, family, hate crime and hate speech, legal gender recognition and bodily integrity, civil society space as well as asylum.

Chair of Finland's leading LGBT+ rights group, Seta, Sakris Kupila, said he was pleased about Finland's standing.

"It's because of Finland passing the same-sex marriage law and the maternity act, enabling two mothers to be parents," Kupila explained.

ILGA-Europe also applauded the country's ministry of justice for implementing a two-year project focused on mainstreaming equality and non-discrimination in municipalities across the country.

The rights group also noted that the Finnish government had commissioned a study to examine the rights and experiences of intersex people, adding that a report on the study is scheduled to be published this spring.

More work to be done

However, ILGA-Europe's executive director, Evelyne Paradis, said many countries were moving backwards in terms of human rights issues relating to the LGBT+ community.

"If ever there was a time to put high political priority on LGBTI equality, it is now! Last year, we warned about the dangers of thinking that the work was done. Sadly, this year, we see concrete evidence of roll-back at political and legislative levels in a growing number of countries. There is no more time to waste," Paradis stated in a press release on the rankings.

The rights group said Finland - which received a 69-percent overall score this year - still has work to do regarding rights for all, particularly in terms of the Evangelical Lutheran Church's position on same-sex marriage.

Seta's Kupila agreed that while Finland ranked well this year, there's more work to be done.

"That fact that Finland placed fourth is good, but we can't rest on our laurels with the notion that everything is good in our country," he said. He pointed out that the Rainbow Map only takes promulgated legislation into consideration in its rankings - not the social climate within a country.

"We have a polarised climate for discussion these days, with a lot of hate-driven rhetoric. The Rainbow community faces a lot of discrimination in everyday life, at school, at work and in healthcare in Finland. That doesn't show up on the maps," Kupila said.

ILGA-Europe has carried out European Rainbow Map rankings for the past 10 years, and this year the countries that fared worst in terms of LGBT+ rights include Armenia (6%), Turkey (5%) and Azerbijan (3%).

Malta, at the very top of the list (siirryt toiseen palveluun)with 90%, far out-ranked the closest runner-up Belgium, which received a score of 73%.