However we are still far behind the UK, which comes in third
Ireland has been ranked 17th in a European league table for equality for members of the LGBTI community.
This is an increase on last year’s placing, when we stood at 20th.
ILGA-Europe – the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association – says 2015 was “a very significant year” for Ireland.
It says this is “not least as the country made history by becoming the first to introduce marriage equality by popular vote”.
It also says that after years of campaigning by trans activists, the Gender Recognition Act introduced legal gender recognition based on self-determination for over-18s.
It adds that Irish family laws were transformed, and protections in employment law for LGBTI employees in religious run institutions - schools and hospitals - were also enhanced.
But it also cautions that ensuring equality is felt by LGBTI people all over the country “remains a challenge”.
It says several issues were unresolved at the end of 2015, citing the blood donation ban, progress on hate crime legislation and isolated bias motivated incidents.
GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) received 19 reports of homophobic or transphobic crimes between December 2014 and June 2015.
While the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) received 27 reports of hate crimes.
The report also singles out an attack on a lesbian couple in February, who were assaulted by two men in Limerick.
We are also far behind the UK - who comes in third out of the 49 countries - and other higher up states such as Spain, France and Portugal.
While Russia comes 48th and Azerbijan is bottom of the list at 49th.
On Russia, the group says: “The 2013 ‘anti-propaganda’ legislation was responsible for blocking online support services for young LGBTI people”.
“LGBTI people faced persistent attacks, ranging from physical violence and hate speech to the closure of businesses or loss of their jobs”.
While it says Azerbaijan’s LGBTI community “continued to face severe challenges in 2015”.
“Numerous violent attacks were carried out against LGBTI individuals; several murders were reported and investigated throughout the year”, it adds.