22nd Mar 2023

Scapegoating of LGBTI people on increase in Europe

  • The rainbow flag has also become a symbol under increasingly attack. The advocacy group's report said it has been attacked in countries not seen before, including Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland and Spain (Photo: Janis Zakis)
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European politicians have been responsible for a "staggering rise" in anti-LGBTI rhetoric in 2021, fuelling hate-crimes reported in every EU country, according to ILGA-Europe, an advocacy group, in their annual report published on Tuesday (15 February).

The rise of anti-LGBTI rhetoric by officials in Europe is part of a global trend among nationalist-conservative politicians to rally political support by attacking LGBTI people, the report stated.

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"Scapegoating LGBTI minorities has become a regular tactic by ultra-conservative and nationalists politicians," ILGA's advocacy director Katrin Hugendubel told EUobserver.

These politicians "position themselves as defenders of 'traditional values'" to mobilise voters and divert attention from their own failures, she said.

"We've been warning for quite some time that Hungary and Poland are not anomalies. Scapegoating LGBTI communities is happening across Europe," she added.

Germany saw an almost 40-percent increase in anti-LGBTI hate crimes in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to government figures.

A new app in France, where users can report anti-LGBTI hate crimes, registered 3,896 incidents across the country in 2020 and 2021.

In the Netherlands, the government reported 2,336 anti-LGBTI violence and discrimination cases in 2020, up from 2,072 in 2019. In addition, there was a seven- percent increase in homophobic hate crimes in England and Wales last year.

There also were homophobic murders last year in EU countries Cyprus, Belgium, France, and Spain, according to the report.

Offices also attacked

LGBTI events and offices were attacked in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Finland.

The report noted hate speech from politicians targeting LGBTI people in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, among the EU members.

In Europe, courts - and especially EU institutions - have been fighting back against discrimination, the ILGA report points out.

The EU Commission had launched probes against Poland and Hungary over the targeting of LGBTI people by the authorities while the European Parliament passed several resolutions defending LGBTI human rights.

Polls cited in the report revealed that in several EU members, a large numbers of the population supporting LGBTI human rights.

That shows "state-sponsored anti-LGBTI rhetoric and legislation is not matched by public opinion," said Hugendubel.

In Hungary, where prime minister Viktor Orbán's government has targeted LGBTI people with a law banning the "promotion" of homosexuality in the media and in schools, polls found close to 60 percent of Hungarians saw that law as a restriction of LGBTI rights.

Another poll found that 59 percent of Hungarians thought same-sex couples should have the same right to adoption as others.

In Poland, where some municipalities have sought to declare "LGBTI-ideology free zones," a poll showed that 56 percent support at least civil partnership for same-sex couples.

In the Czech Republic, where president Milos Zeman used derogatory terms to describe trans people in 2021, 65 percent of the population supports marriage equality.

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