Donnerstag, 3. Januar 2013

Best Practice: Public Legal Education through ILGA´s Rainbow Index and Map

Interview with Joël Le Déroff, Senior Policy and Programmes Officer at ILGA Europe,

1. ILGA Europe annually publishes the Rainbow Index and Map, reflecting the national legal human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people in Europe. The scaling used in the shows each countries´ legislation and administrative practices protecting or violating fundamental rights of LGBTI persons in 49 European countries. Which steps did it take to develop this tool for public legal education? 

We started publishing such an index and such a map only in 2011. The reason why it took us so much time to realise this tool (ILGA-Europe operates since 1996) is that there is a lot of work behind it. Although it addresses only the legal situation of LGBTI people (as opposed to other social facts relating to discrimination, intolerance, etc.), it requires a lot of effort to find all the necessary information. ILGA-Europe has an important resource in that respect, since we can count with the help of our members (national and local NGOs in most of the European countries). But double checking all the pieces of legislation is not always easy, also because of language barriers. 

Another important element is that the map and the index are tools that we try to improve every year. The 2012 index includes far more criteria (42) than the 2011 version (24). The reason for this is that we are progressively making our information more detailed, and that we developed the capacity to cover more legislative areas, Since 2012 we can count with the parallel development of another tool, our Annual Review, which provides us with more opportunities to collect and check data, as well as to monitor legislative change. 
2. Do you think this map can be used as a best practice and transferred to other areas of human rights? And if so, which ones? 

What we know is that the map is extremely useful in our work, because it provides an illustration of where countries are and what priorities to identify for legal changes. t also helps people learn about human rights issues they are not familiar with, because their country may get a mark they did not expect (e.g. we got questions such as “oh, but we have had marriage equality for gays for a long time now, so why aren’t we in the top countries?” In this case, some people realised that there are also a lot of issues concerning the human rights of trans people, which are not solved with equality legislation for gays and lesbians).

So it is a very good awareness raising tool. The fact it has all the information at the back of the map – the details of how countries match our criteria or not – also helps people read it and learn more about human rights issues

However, it is also important to communicate on the limits of the tool. For instance, the fact that it does not measure day-to-day intolerance or violence directed at LGBTI people. Just to give an example, when French people see that “their” mark is lower than the mark of Slovakia or Montenegro, they are surprised and they realise that they still have a lot to do. But if you take the opposite perspective, it is also important that people realise that even with a higher mark, the life of the average gay or lesbian is maybe not better in Budapest or Zagreb than in Paris, and that in any case, it shouldn’t be taken as an evidence that the situation in those countries is satisfactory. Another example: the countries that have the highest marks can be (legitimately) proud. But if you look carefully, you realise that they are still far from the highest possible mark, meaning that there is still a lot to do!

Keeping this precaution in mind, I am sure that this tool could be replicated in a variety of human rights areas, provided you know clearly what you want to measure and how.

3. What do people who could create similar indexes/maps on other areas of human rights need to consider when they define indicators? 

It is extremely important to define precisely your criteria. For instance: if some aspects of human rights protection are ensured by regulations but not in the legislation adopted by the Parliament of the country, do you give a point to that country? If some policies are in place in part of a federal State, but not in others, how do you deal with this situation?
You also need to choose only criteria on which you know you’ll be able to get information from all countries/constituencies.
I also tend to believe that you have to select themes of a real consistence to create such a tool, in order for it to be readable.
One other example of human rights index is the MIPEX index on the situation of migrants in Europe. 

4. How are the Rainbow index and the map disseminated all across Europe? What are the main target groups? 

ILGA-Europe and its members use it a lot in their contacts with the general public (events, publications). We also use it when we engage with decision makers. Actually, the fact it is at the same time accurate and easy-to-read allows us to use it in different contexts, a lot more than many other tools we have.

Now, when we want to convey a more detailed and specific message, in particular to decision-makers, it also needs to be used together with other more specific and detailed tools (policy papers, positions…). It allows you to capture the attention of your audience, and then explain how they can “improve” their record suggesting solutions, proposing reforms, etc. (to sum it up: “this is your mark, and this is how you could improve it”).

1 Kommentar:

  1. Thank you posting this. This was a really informative post for me and i am sure was for other also. Fantastic read. I will share it with others.