From December 12-13th, 2016, representatives of the National LGBT* rights organization LGL and international project partners and experts took part in the final “Hate No More” conference in Warsaw. During the conference, activities implemented by the project were reviewed and a study was presented on the needs of people affected by homophobic and transphobic violence and/or harassment, as well as best practices from other EU countries in response to hate crimes against the LGBT* community being discussed.
The two-year project „Accommodating the needs of victims of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes – raising the competences of law enforcement institutions”, financed by the European Commission Fundamental Rights and Citizenship programme, is currently one of LGL’s most prominent activities in the field of hate crime. The project was implemented with partners from Zagreb Pride (Croatia), Hatter Társaság (Hungary), Mozaika (Latvia) and Kampania Przeciw Homofobii (Poland).
The conference opened with an introductory speech from the event’s official patron, Polish Human Rights Commissioner Adam Bodnar. The Commissioner drew attention to the growing number of hate-motivated incidents, and the need to respond quickly and the importance of inter-institutional cooperation.
Considerable attention was devoted to the adaptation of the 2012 Victims Rights Directive and its transposition into the EU member states’ national law. Experts attending the event spared no criticism of national law enforcement authorities’ passive response in implementing measures protecting victims’ needs, as these measures are often ineffective, and some rights specified in the Directive remain unimplemented. An expert from Latvia pointed out that while the Directive has been adapted into the state legal system and necessary secondary legislation has been put into place, everything looks good in theory, but the provisions are ineffective in practice.
The situation in Lithuania is overwhelmingly similar. Although the Prosecutor General established protocol for addressing the special needs of victims at the beginning of 2016, this is difficult to apply in practice, as information provided to victims is often written in inaccessible legal language. While the Directive provides the right to access victim support services, it must be noted that Lithuania still has no institution acting at the national level which provides such services.
Another area that received much attention at the conference was cooperation between non-governmental organizations, representatives of law enforcement agencies and victim support services. The conference was attended by a number of law enforcement personnel from Poland and other EU countries. During the project, with the help of international and national experts and law enforcement personnel, both country-specific and universal tools were created to raise competence among professionals working with victims of hate crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It is expected that increased competence will raise confidence in these institutions, leading to more crimes reported and allowing for greater cases of hate motivated incidents to be investigated.