Every day, people across Europe continue to be the targets of assaults because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In 2013, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s own study revealed that an average of 59% of the LGBT people surveyed in the EU who had been attacked in the previous 12 months felt they had been attacked because they were perceived to be LGBT.
These attacks, often violent in nature, are not going away. Yet, ILGA-Europe also note that many national governments have not introduced laws to protect people against homophobic and transphobic hate crime. There has been little evidence of action at EU level to fill this gap.
Given this worrying context, the latest FRA report is even more important. Ensuring justice for hate crime victims: professional perspectives examines the fight against hate crime from the viewpoint of the authorities.
Previous research focused mainly on the experiences of hate crime victims, the prevalence of hate crime and hate speech against LGBT persons and the reasons why LGBT persons are often afraid or not motivated to report such crimes.
Fortunately, the new FRA report indicates that professionals working on the ground agree that homophobic and transphobic hate crimes are a serious problem.
62% of the interviewed experts thought that hate crimes based on ones perceived sexual orientation or gender identity was a very of fairly serious problem.
Unfortunately, this report, together with the March 2016 report Professionally speaking, also confirms that homophobia and transphobia still seem widespread among law enforcement bodies and are often even rooted in their organisational cultures.
44% of the surveyed professionals indicated that the risk is very or fairly high that police officers share discriminatory attitudes of hate crime perpetrators.
This finding underlines how training and awareness-raising for professionals is urgently needed. Only when these actions are implemented comprehensively will LGBTI victims of hate crime be empowered to report their experiences in confidence.
Member States should be helped and pressured to make sure their police forces, judicial bodies and victims’ support services fight against homophobia and transphobia, including within their own organisations. LGBTI organisations are a key partner in this and the cooperation between civil society and public bodies should be promoted at all levels.
ILGA-Europe find it incomprehensible that the EU hate crime legislation still does not cover hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other grounds. The EU institutions and Member States should take the existing research on board and move to enact and implement inclusive hate crime legislation and policies, leaving no group behind.