Amnesty International has launched a new report on the state of homophobia and transphobia across the European Union.

Entitled, “Because of who I am: Homophobia, transphobia and hate crime in Europe” – it exposes several gaps in legislation in EU member states that leave the continent’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities vulnerable to persecution.

Germany’s criminal code is cited as having no provision on hate crime. It forms a sub-category of “politically motivated crimes” consisting of xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Latvia and Italy are also mentioned as lacking protection against homophobic and transphobic crime.

Only a minority of European countries collect comprehensive data on homophobic and transphobic attacks.

“Because of discrimination, prejudice and violence, many people in Europe continue to hide their sexual orientation and gender identity, including from colleagues, friends, schoolmates and family members,” the report says.

“According to a survey across European Union States recently published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), almost 70% of the LGBTI respondents had always or often disguised their sexual orientation or gender identity at school.”

In order to effectively tackle hate crimes on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, Amnesty proposes that “authorities need to make improvements in several areas. Currently, there are gaps in legislation in many EU countries, while investigations and prosecutions of crimes with a hate motive are often flawed. There is little support for victims, who in turn may be unwilling to report the crimes to the police.”

Amnesty is calling on the EU to review existing directives in order to ensure that they comprehensively tackle all forms of hate crimes including those perpetrated on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

EU countries must also properly record hate crime incidents if they are to fully tackle the problem, the human rights organisation urges.