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Finland's ranking improves in Rainbow Europe's LBGT human rights index

Finland ranked fifth out of 49 European countries regarding the human rights of sexual minorities, a slight improvement on last year.

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File photo. Image: Lucas Coch / EPA

This week Rainbow Europe released their annual rankings on how well European countries protect the human rights of members of their sexual minority communities.

Finland ranked fifth out of 49 other countries across Europe this year, the group announced on Monday. Last year Finland ranked seventh.

Rainbow Europe is EU-funded and part of ILGA-Europe, the European arm of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. The organisations have carried out the annual index for the past seven years.

"2017 was a year of mixed emotions for the LGBTI [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual and Intersexed] community in Finland – some long-awaited legislative changes finally came into effect, while calls for reform in other policy areas were not heeded by policymakers," the organisation wrote.

ILGA applauded Finland's implementation of its same sex marriage law last year which was first approved by parliament in 2014.

The group also said it looked positively upon a government working group's efforts to examine the national ID system and its use of gendered identification numbers.

The group also said it was looking forward to Finland's possible future reforms implemented which would enable both members of same-sex couples to automatically obtain legal parenthood.

Finland's trans sterilisation policy rebuked

However, the group said, Finland has not fulfilled other recommendations it - and other groups - would like to see take place.

"Recommendations directed to policymakers by LGBTI activists were ignored in 2017," the group announced on its page about Finland's ranking.

"Trans activists and civil society continued to push for the removal of sterilisation as a requirement in legal gender recognition. And the calls for change also came from international observers. The UN Human Rights Committee recommendation to remove the need for sterilisation in May was rejected by the Finnish government several months later. A bill with this aim in mind had not received enough support from politicians to make it onto a committee agenda by the end of the year," the group wrote.

ILGA-Europe said that Finland has implemented some 73 percent of the actions the group said were required to guarantee equal rights for members of the LGBT communities.

The group recommended that Finland looks to Malta, which came in first place in this year's index (and for the third year in a row) fulfilling some 91 percent of ILGA's requirements.

Just behind Malta in the rankings - and ahead of Finland - were the countries of Belgium, Norway and the UK.

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