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24th Sep 2016

Focus

Transgender and young gay people at greater risk of violence

  • EU ministers are meeting in Malta to discuss gay rights in Europe (Photo: Ronny Siegel)

Key findings by the Vienna-based European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) say young people are more likely to be victims of homophobic violence and attacks when compared to their older peers.

FRA’s director Morten Kjaerum is set to reveal further details on the issue to EU ministers later on Tuesday (13) at a forum in Malta ahead of the international day against homophobia and transphobia.

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“We have identified disturbing patterns of violence and discrimination towards LGBT people especially in relation to younger people and those who are transgender,” he said in a statement.

A full report is set for publication over the summer.

The latest study is based on last year’s FRA survey into the experiences of hate crime and discrimination by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

The survey polled some 93,000 people in Europe and had found most young people who identify themselves as LGBTI in the EU are either being bullied at school or are forced into silence out of fear.

FRA on Tuesday said respondents aged between 18 to 25 are less open about their sexuality and notes 67 percent hid or disguised their sexual orientation or gender identity when at school.

Transgender people are also more likely to suffer from violence.

FRA’s spokesperson Blanca Tiapia told this website the latest report set for release says younger people in the gay and transgender community feel the most comfortable in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

“The ones living in these countries said they generally feel less likely to be victims of harassment or discrimination,” said Tiapia.

But the fear factor jumps in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

“These people really are afraid of living freely and hide their identities,” she noted.

The agency recommends schools introduce into their curriculums issues surrounding the communities.

The European Parliament, for its part, passed a resolution earlier this year calling up the European Commission to put forward an EU-level strategy to protect the fundamental rights of LGBTI people.

Asked if the agency supports the parliament’s resolution, Tiapia said FRA’s mandate won’t allow it take a position.

“Following our mandate, we cannot position ourselves regarding Parliament’s resolutions,” she said in an email.

She noted the agency however encourages the EU and member states to better integrate LGBTI rights into national action plans.

Last year, a group of EU ministers for equality backed a petition for the European Commission to piece together an EU-wide strategy.

The European commissioner for justice, Viviane Reding, later rejected the proposal.

The same ministers have since renewed their efforts. All are in Malta attending the same forum with Kjaerum. “They are hoping other countries will join them in this call,” said Tiapi.

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