The annual Fundamental Rights Conference, organised by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), concluded that EU measures to address hate crime should be extended to cover all forms of bias, including homophobic crimes.

Currently, the EU only foresees implementing specific, higher penalties for racist and xenophobic speech and crime. This came from a 2008 Framework Decision.

The conference concluded that there should be a comprehensive approach to hate crime, as other groups also face discriminatory hate crime and hate speech.

Results of the EU-wide LGBT survey carried out by the FRA show that more than one in four – 26% – of LGBT people reported being attacked or threatened with violence in the past 5 years.

The European Parliament has called multiple times for the Commission to include the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in its hate crime legislation.

Sophie in’t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, said: “Hate crime and hate speech are a vast problem in the EU, and they are of course not limited to xenophobia and racism.”

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face the same type of violence and crimes across the EU, which deserve specific attention under the law too.”

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, also commented, saying: “I am delighted to see that the Conference agreed future measures under EU law should cover all grounds under Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.”

“These conclusions support the European Parliament’s calls, and are a strong signal for the Commission and the Council to start working on the inclusion of more grounds in EU hate crime legislation.”