All victims of crimes are experiencing a tremendous amount of stress, secondary victimization or other negative effects. It is even more true in case of a hate crime – violence and offences motivated by racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, or by bias against a person’s disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. Hate crime against LGBT* people is called homophobic or transphobic hate crime and victims of such offences are considered more vulnerable and in greater need for support.
The Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of the European Union of the 25th of October 2012 establishing minimum standards for rights, support and protection of victims of crime adapts ways and standards that member countries should apply in order to ensure rights of the crime victims. Naturally, our country officials and authorities are not alone in work of such great significance – various human rights and victim support organizations are there to help them in this journey. As a pioneer of work on homophobic and transphobic hate crime topic the National LGBT* rights organization LGL is ready to put a lot of work to achieve the standards of the Directive to let them become reality for the LGBT* victims who suffered from hate crime.
The project „Accommodating the needs of the victims of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes – raising the competences of law-enforcement institutions”, implemented together with partners from Croatia, Latvia, Poland and Hungary and funded by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Commission, is one of a few projects focussing on hate crime that are currently being implemented on behalf of LGL.
The project was aimed at diagnosing specific needs of the victims of hate crime in the light of the Victims Rights Directive and ensuring their proper and respectful treatment by law-enforcement officials. This is taking place through detailed research of existing legal framework, policies and the experiences and needs that victims have while in contact with police officers, prosecutors, judges, legal practitioners and victim support centers. Another great part of the project is the training of the abovementioned target groups that will be conducted in autumn 2016. A country specific toolkit together with a universal toolkit (applicable in other EU countries) will be developed in cooperation with the experts and law-enforcement practitioners. Both will be done to increase the level of competence (knowledge, skills and positive attitudes) towards sexual orientation and gender identity motivated hate crimes. With this raise in competence, higher reporting rates for hate crimes can be achieved.
The project already reached many milestones, as it has been implemented for more than a year. To be specific, a Benchmark report was produced in each project country, with the goal of evaluating whether the national legal systems guarantee the rights of all victims of crimes that are established in the Directive. Therefore the Lithuanian report researches what measures country policy makers have taken to implement the Directive, and identify the issues of transferring it into national law. Moreover, since the report was produced, Lithuanian authorities initiated many updates to the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania, which will take effect on March 1st, 2016. Due to such amendments an update to the report was produced. You can read the updated report HERE.
One of the features contributing to the originality and significance of the project is that the outputs are being developed in close cooperation between the experts, theorists and practitioners, NGOs, academics and institutional, governmental partners to ensure their utility. In this framework, two researches were conducted in order to study hate crime victims’ needs, challenges and problems – quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative research invited LGBT* crime victims from partner countries to fill in a questionnaire about their experience of hate crime and it’s reporting to the police or other stakeholders. The qualitative research consisting of multiple interviews with different target groups was performed in each partner country too. Both studies will be combined to provide a report with valuable data about the victims’ needs, experiences, helpful tips, tools and help to develop further project activities and outputs.
Since the first phase of the project was dedicated to the abovementioned research project, foreseen various measures to engage the target community and collect adequate data. Questionnaires were translated into the project countries’ languages and advertised through LGBT* audience targeted media channels, to increase the participation a prize lottery was organized, a leaflet was developed to provide information on what hate crime is, what the Lithuanian national law says about it and what to do if one experiences a hate crime or witnesses it. The leaflet is available in Lithuanian, Russian and English in paper and in electronic formats.
LGL is keeping in touch with the partners and looking forward towards the implementation of the second half of the project, during which an international and national team of experts will work on the methodology on which the competences raising training for the law enforcement professionals will be based. Another great thing to look forward is a flash-mob action – dedicated to promote the project itself and the project message – which will take place during the international Baltic Pride 2016 festival’s March for Equality, on 18th June, in Vilnius, when hundreds of yellow balloons with the “Hate No More” message and the project logo will be let fly in the sky while thousands of LGBT* people and allies will be watching.
On the final stage of the project LGL together with project partners prepared a special methodology for the training for the law enforcement professionals.