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Does hope or fear prevail among Europe’s LGBTI people?

FRA (14.05.2020) – https://bit.ly/36ee9l6 – More lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people are now open about who they are but fear, violence and discrimination remain high, show the results of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s survey on experiences of LGBTI people in Europe. With 140,000 respondents, it is the largest ever survey on hate crime and discrimination against LGBTI people. The findings should drive policy measures to further protect and promote the rights of LGBTI people.


“Too many LGBTI people continue to live in the shadows, afraid of being ridiculed, discriminated or even attacked. Even though some countries have advanced LGBTI equality, our survey findings show that overall there has been too little real progress, leaving many LGBTI people vulnerable. Their job and healthcare difficulties may worsen due to COVID-19. Policymakers should take note and do more to actively promote full respect for rights of LGBTI people,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty.


European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli added: “Despite the important steps forward regarding the equality of LGBTI+ people in the EU in the last years, LGBTI+ people still report high levels of discrimination. More worryingly, we have recently witnessed within the EU anti-LGBTI incidents such as attacks on prides, the adoption of ‘LGBTI ideology-free zone’ declarations, fines for LGBTI-friendly advertisements and others. Everybody in the European Union should feel safe and free to be themselves.”


The ‘A long way to go for LGBTI equality’ report looks at how around 140,000 LGBTI people in the European Union, the United Kingdom, Serbia and North Macedonia experience their human rights. It also underlines changes since FRA’s first LGBT survey carried out in 2012.


Comparing the two surveys reveals little overall progress over the seven years. The EU averages mask important differences between countries. In some, over 70% LGBTI respondent say society is more tolerant, while in others, up to 68% say it is less.


Key survey findings include:


  • Openness: 6 in 10 avoid holding hands in public with their partners.
  • Harassment: 2 in 5 respondents say they were harassed the year before the survey.
  • Attacks: 1 in 5 trans and intersex people were physically or sexually attacked, double that of other LGBTI groups.
  • Discrimination: 1 in 5 feel discriminated against at work and over 1 in 3 feel discriminated against when going out to eat, drink or being social.
  • Schooling: 1 in 2 LGBTI students say someone among their peers or teachers supported LGBTI people.
  • Economic situation: 1 in 3 LGBTI people say they have difficulties to make ends meet. The situation is worse for intersex and trans people (about 1 in 2).


This evidence will support the European Commission’s LGBTI Equality Strategy due this year. FRA calls on the EU and its Member States to put in place measures protecting the rights of LGBTI people, including:


  • Hate crime – build a culture of zero tolerance towards violence and harassment of the LGBTI community so that LGBTI people can enjoy their right to move freely and without fear. Invest in training to ensure that police can recognise, record and properly investigate hate crimes against LGBTI people so that victims feel safe to report attacks and are treated equally.
  • Reporting – make it easier for victims to report crimes and discrimination through online reporting tools, community liaison and police training. Adequately resource equality bodies so they can effectively support victims of discrimination.
  • Discrimination – adopt the Equal Treatment Directive to extend protection against discrimination beyond employment. Realise comprehensive national actions plans to promote respect for rights of LGBTI people across all areas of life.
  • Schooling – create safe and supportive environment for young LGBTI people at school. Help schools and teachers to share experiences, counter bullying of LGBTI students and ensure educational materials do not equate being LGBTI with having a disease.
  • Lead by example – everyone can play their part so that equality becomes a reality.


This survey covers the EU 27 Member States, the UK, Serbia and North Macedonia. For the first time, it includes experiences of intersex people and young LGBTI people aged 15 to 17.


Together with the main survey results, FRA publishes an extensive online data explorer, which allows to filter data by country, by survey question and by L, G, B, T or I group.


In our video LGBTI people tell us about their lives – in their own words.


More information


For more information, please see the press pack or contact media@fra.europa.eu (link sends e-mail) / Tel.: +43 1 580 30 653

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TURKEY: Criminal case for opposing homophobic speech

End stigmatization of LGBT people, investigation of bar associations.


HRW (01.05.2020) – https://bit.ly/2SzVxGj – The Ankara Prosecutor’s office in Turkey has opened a criminal investigation into the Ankara Bar Association after it filed a complaint against the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate for a homophobic speech, Human Rights Watch said today.


The case revolves around a Friday sermon about the Covid-19 pandemic on April 24, 2020 by Ali Erbaş, an imam who heads Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, which administers mosques and personnel for Turkey’s Sunni Muslim majority. During the sermon he blamed homosexuality and premarital sex for the spread of HIV. Erbaş urged Muslims “to join the fight to protect people from such evil.” Following criticism of Erbaş by rights groups and bar associations in Ankara, Izmir, and Diyarbakir, several top Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, voiced their support for Erbaş’s remarks and condemned the Ankara Bar Association for criticizing Erbaş’s speech.


“It is extremely concerning to see some of Turkey’s top government representatives appearing to endorse hateful remarks by the head of the religious affairs directorate,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Turkey’s government has an obligation to protect everyone from hate crimes and discrimination, and should not tolerate statements by officials that encourage hate crimes and target LGBT people and those living with HIV.”


Turkey’s government should ensure that all of its representatives refrain from making statements that stigmatize lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and people living with HIV, and that put them at risk of harassment and attacks, Human Rights Watch said. Criminal investigations into those who speak out against homophobic statements by state officials should be dropped immediately.


The Ankara Bar Association filed a complaint against Erbaş with the Ankara chief prosecutor’s office on April 27, 2020 on the grounds that Erbaş’s sermon constituted public provocation to hatred and hostility (art. 216/2 of the Turkish Penal Code). In response, the Ankara prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the Bar Association on the grounds of “insulting the religious values adopted by a part of the public” (art. 216/3 of the Turkish Penal Code) for its statement against Erbaş.


The justice minister endorsed the criminal investigation by posting a tweet after the prosecutor opened the case condemning the Ankara Bar Association’s statement. The Justice Ministry has to grant permission to prosecutors to proceed with prosecuting lawyers and bar associations. The Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office filed a similar investigation on the same grounds against the Diyarbakır Bar Association. The websites of both Ankara and Diyarbakır Bar Association have been inaccessible since April 28. Both bar associations told Human Rights Watch that their websites had been targeted, but it was unclear by whom.


The Turkish authorities have obligations under international and domestic law to ensure that the rights of the entire population are upheld and protected without discrimination. Fulfilling that obligation means they should censure, not support, officials who make hateful speeches against LGBT people and any other group at risk of harassment, Human Rights Watch said.


The Turkish authorities have systematically prevented LGBT events and the annual Pride Parade in Istanbul since 2015. Nineteen students from Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (METU) remain on trial for organizing and attending a Pride Parade on campus in May 2019.


“These outrageous criminal investigations show that the government and their prosecutors have little, if any, interest in defending the rights of LGBT people and ending stigmatization, but are obsessed with silencing critics, including of hate speech,” Williamson said. “The investigations should be dropped immediately, and authorities should focus on encouraging tolerance, nondiscrimination, protection from hate crimes, and upholding privacy for everyone.”

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