The European Union and its member states are failing to tackle homophobic and transphobic hate crimes and to protect all individuals from discrimination, harassment, and violence, Amnesty International said in a report published this week.
Amnesty International's report, Because of Who I Am: Homophobia, Transphobia, and Hate Crimes in Europe, highlights gaps in the legislation of many European countries where sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly included as grounds on which hate crimes can be perpetrated. The report also points out the inadequacy of current EU standards on hate crimes for tackling homophobic and transphobic violence.
'Violence against people because of who they are or whom they love must be prosecuted whenever and wherever it occurs, in any country,' said Cristina Finch, Amnesty International USA Women's Human Rights Program managing director. 'The stories of hate-motivated attacks and discrimination that Amnesty International exposes in its new report on EU countries' failure to prevent and prosecute acts of homophobic violence are gut-wrenching. As a whole and as individual countries, EU members must do better to stop hate crimes through strengthened laws that target perpetrators and bring justice to the victims.'
The discriminatory motive sets hate crimes apart from other criminal acts. It is crucial that when investigating and prosecuting criminal acts on the basis of the real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the victims, the police and judicial authorities do whatever they can to unearth the motive behind them.
According to a recent EU-wide survey, 80 percent of homophobic and transphobic violence is not reported to the police, often because of a fear of institutionalized homophobia and transphobia. In other cases, Gay people do not report attacks against them because they are not openly Gay and are afraid that their peers and families will find out.
Countries such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, and Latvia have no comprehensive provisions on hate crimes, as they do not cover offenses against people based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. In other countries such as Croatia and Greece, legislation on transphobic and homophobic hate crimes is not properly implemented and sometimes results in the homophobic or transphobic motive not being registered by the police or not being thoroughly investigated.
SOME RECENT INCIDENTS
In February 2012, Michelle, a young Trans woman, was beaten by several people in Catania, Italy, because of her gender identity. The perpetrators shouted derogatory language at her during the attack such as 'Disgusting! You are a man! A faggot!'
Michelle reported the attack to the police, and one suspect has been identified. However, the transphobic motive will not be explicitly taken into account in the prosecution or in the determination of the sentence because of gaps in Italian legislation.
Michelle complained, 'They wanted to butcher me just because of who I am, because I have a face that is a bit too masculine and because they understood I was a Trans person from my voice.'
On September 30, 2008, Mihail Stoyanov, a medical student, was killed in Sofia because he was perceived as Gay. Five years after the murder, the trial against the two suspects has not yet started. Although the homophobic motive was well-established during the investigation, it will not be explicitly taken into account in the trial. The delay in bringing the perpetrators to justice is having a dire impact on Stoyanov's mother, Hristina, who is left without any psychological or other support from authorities.
The report can be read online at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/EUR01/014/2013/en
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than three million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied. - Submitted by Amnesty International
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