Gay, lesbian and transgender people face shocking levels of violence, discrimination and abuse across Europe, with gaps in EU and national legislation robbing them of justice and creating a climate of fear, a new report by Amnesty International says.
This summer, people hurled eggs at participants at a gay pride rally in Lithuania, which is currently chair of the rotating European Union presidency. At the first gay pride rally staged in Montenegro, an EU candidate state, dozens were injured as homophobic protesters threw rocks and bottles.
Amnesty’s report detailed cases of people killed, savagely beaten and doused in petrol because of their sexuality, with many victims struggling to get justice or support from police and judicial authorities ill-equipped to deal with homophobic violence.
“Lack of legislation has a fundamental impact on how these crimes are dealt with by state authorities,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty’s expert on discrimination in Europe and Central Asia.
EU legislation from 2008 states that attacks motivated by racism and xenophobia constitute hate crimes. Attacks carried out because of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity do not come under that banner, the Amnesty report notes.
“The existing double standards convey the idea that some forms of violence deserve less attention and less protection than others,” Mr Perolini said. “That’s unacceptable for a European Union that prides itself on promoting equality and inclusion.”
Statistics released in May by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights found that one in four people in the bloc had faced violence because of their sexuality, with more than half reporting discrimination. Activists worry that those statistics could worsen as the EU expands to include more socially conservative nations.
In Serbia, which became an official candidate for EU membership this year, a gay pride parade has been banned for the past two years because police said they were unable ensure the safety of participants. In July, newspapers in Montenegro published fake obituaries of gay activists ahead of the nation’s first gay pride march.
(Amnesty’s report is available here)