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LGBT discrimination ‘widespread’ throughout EU

Jessica Geen March 31, 2009
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Discrimination, harassment and violence against LGBT people is ‘widespread’ across the European Union, an EU report has claimed.

The report, published today by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), cited issues of hate speech, bullying in schools and discrimination in employment or healthcare for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.

Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania were named as countries which obstruct gay events such as Pride, whereas countries ignoring calls to improve LGBT rights included Italy, Malta, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

Mortem Kjaerum, director of the FRA, said many incidents of homophobia and transphobia went unreported to authorities, meaning crimes are not punished.

He said: “Many LGBT persons experience discrimination, bullying and harassment. There have been physical attacks and even deadly assaults against LGBT persons in some countries. These are alarming signals in an EU that prides itself on its principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination.”

Mr Kjaerum called on EU governments to improve recording of hate crimes and ensure police are correctly trained, adding that education was necessary to improve awareness of diversity and discrimination and encourage victims to come forward.

The Barnet Safer Communities Partnership in London was praised for its progress in dealing with LGBT hate crimes. Victims who do not wish to contact police are encouraged to report crimes through third party groups such as the Barnet LGBT group.

A project in the Netherlands was also commended. It allows victims to report crimes anonymously on the internet so information can be collected.

The report, compiled from surveys, focuses on social issues and follows one published last year by the FRA on legal protections for LGBT people.

Earlier this month, a report recommending the extension of protection against LGBT discrimination was approved by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee.

Currently, provisions only apply to discrimination on sexual orientation, age, disability or religion in the workplace.

The extension on legal protection will apply to areas such as healthcare and commercial services.

London Green MEP, Jean Lambert, who is a member of the committee and voted in favour of the report, commented: “The adoption of this report marks welcome progress on equal rights, particularly on access to goods and services.

“However, certain issues concerning family law are not included and we may face difficult negotiations to secure support across parties, given the positions of largest political groups in the European Parliament.

Related topics: Employment, Europe

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