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Bias against LGBT people

Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are motivated by a bias based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. In some instances, LGBT people have been portrayed by the media and politicians as a threatening and inferior group, posing a danger to public health and "traditional" structures, such as marriage and the family. LGBT people continue to experience stigmatization and lack of legal protection from discrimination and hate crime. Successive ODIHR annual hate crime reports have included reports of physical assaults and murders, with transgender people being particularly at risk. Serious physical assaults carried out by groups, especially around pride parades, are also common features of hate crimes against LGBT people.

Recording practices vary, with some states recording hate crimes against transgender persons as a separate category and/or including crimes against intersex people within this category. The number of NGOs reporting on hate crimes against LGBT has grown markedly in recent years. Reports from NGOs to ODIHR suggest that mistrust of authorities, as well as an unwillingness or fear to reveal one's own sexual orientation or gender identity contributes to significant under-reporting of hate crimes targeting this group.



SELECT YEAR

Reports

Overview of incidents reported by civil society

Attacks Against People Attacks Against Property Total
Violent Attacks Threats
434 232 33 699

Azerbaijan

Transgender Europe reported the murder of a transgender person.

Belgium

ILGA-Europe and Cavaria reported four physical assaults, including one in which a firearm was used against a gay couple and one in which a gay man was attacked by a group.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Sarajevo Open Center reported five physical assaults, including one carried out by a group armed with a knife; four instances of threats, three of which involved intimidation lasting over extended periods of time; and one incident in which the office of an LGBT rights organization was vandalized with offensive graffiti.

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina reported 21 incidents targeting people and structures on the grounds of sexual orientation or affiliation with the LGBT community.

Croatia

Official figures recorded two physical assaults and two cases of homophobic threats.

Czech Republic

ILGA-Europe and In IUSTITIA reported two physical assaults, including one in which a transgender victim suffered injuries requiring hospital treatment; and threats towards a lesbian couple, in which one of the women was transgender.

Denmark

Official figures recorded 31 hate crimes based on bias against LGBT people.

Finland

Official figures recorded 82 hate crimes based on bias against LGBT people.

Georgia

The Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF) and the Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG) reported two physical assaults, one consisting of an attack by a group on a gay couple and the second involving the use of a weapon to stab a transgender sex worker, leaving the victim with serious injuries. The HBF reported four additional physical assaults on gay men; two incidents of threats, one of which targeted an LGBT rights organization; and an arson attack against the offices of the same organization.

Germany

Official figures recorded 80 crimes based on bias against sexual orientation.

MANEO reported 78 physical assaults targeting LGBT people, including eight that were classified as serious; 39 robberies; 9 burglaries; two incidents of damage to property; one case of vandalism; and 69 incidents of threats.

The coalition of civil society groups Hate Crime Counselling Project reported 57 homophobic and transphobic incidents, including physical assaults, harassment, threats and damage to property.

The Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany reported 42 incidents of physical assault.  

Greece

The Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) reported eight incidents of sexual assault, 48 physical assaults, two of which also targeted people with disabilities, one robbery and 131 threats. The RVRN and the European Centre for Democracy Development also reported an incident in which a transgender woman was insulted and shot at.

The European Centre for Democracy Development reported two further physical assaults, including one in which a group attacked a transgender person with a knife. The Greek Helsinki Monitor reported one assault on an activist.

Hungary

Transgender Europe reported two physical assaults on transgender women.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported a physical assault causing serious injury to an Italian man following his publicized participation in the Budapest Pride March.

Ireland

Transgender Europe reported a physical assault on a transgender woman, and one incident of threats.

Italy

Official figures recorded 45 crimes based on bias against LGBT people.

Transgender Europe reported the murder of a Brazilian transgender person.

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz Indigo reported seven incidents of physical assault, six of which were carried out by groups, including one incident that targeted a transgender girl and one that resulted in serious injuries; one arson attacks and one threat. Kyrgyz Indigo, Transgender Europe, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Human Rights First reported an additional arson attack. ILGA-Europe and The Grace reported an additional physical assault on a transgender woman.

Transgender Europe also reported three additional physical assaults, including one sexual assault, and one incident of threats.

Lithuania

Official figures recorded 8 hate crimes based on bias against LGBT people.

ILGA-Europe and the Lithuanian Gay League reported two physical assaults; one of the victims was a man who had intervened following the verbal abuse of patrons of a gay club.

Montenegro

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported two physical assaults and an incident of threats. The victims of these incidents were gay men and LGBT activists.

Netherlands

Official figures recorded 1,574 crimes motivated by bias against LGBT people. The figures include cases of hate speech and discrimination.

ILGA-Europe and COC Nederland reported five physical assaults on LGBT people, including one incident involving extortion, two carried out by groups, one incident involving the use of a weapon and two incidents causing serious injuries. The victims included four gay men and one transgender woman. A further incident of threats to a transgender woman from Syria was reported.

Poland

ILGA-Europe and the Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH) reported five physical assaults, including one carried out by a group, and one threat against a lesbian woman and her partner. ILGA-Europe, Lambda Warsaw, and the Never Again Association reported two physical assaults, and one incident in which two groups clashed during the Equality Parade.

ILGA-Europe and Lambda Warsaw also reported seven physical assaults, two of which were carried out by groups; and one incident of damage to property. The Never Again Association reported one additional incident of physical assault carried out by a group that caused serious injuries, one incident of threats and one homophobic graffiti.

Portugal

ILGA-Europe and ILGA Portugal reported eight physical assaults, including four in which gay men were attacked by groups; one case of vandalism; and one incident in which homophobic graffiti was painted on the house of LGBT activists.

Russian Federation

The Union of Independent LGBT Activists of Russia and the SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis reported four physical assaults, including one perpetrated by a group.

The Union of Independent LGBT Activists of Russia also reported 37 physical assaults, including 16 carried out by groups and two involving clashes between groups; six robberies; three attempted robberies; and three threats. SOVA reported three physical assaults, including one perpetrated by a group.

Serbia

ILGA-Europe and Gayten-LGBT reported a physical assault carried out by a group on a transgender couple. Praxis reported two physical assaults.

Transgender Europe reported two physical assaults, including one that involved knife threats. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Human Rights First reported a further physical assault on four women.

Spain

Official figures recorded 169 hate crimes motivated by bias against sexual orientation.

Transgender Europe reported the murder of a transgender person. FELGBT reported four physical assaults, targeting three men and a woman. The Cabinet of Social Studies (GES) reported two physical assaults, including one committed by a group, and one threat.

Sweden

Official figures recorded 433 crimes motivated by bias based on sexual orientation.

ILGA-Europe and RFSL Crime Victim Support reported five physical assaults, including two carried out by groups and one in which a transgender woman was beaten and sexually assaulted.

Transgender Europe reported a sexual assault on a transgender woman, and one incident of vandalism targeting the home of a transgender person and their partner.

Turkey

Transgender Europe, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Human Rights First reported one murder. Transgender Europe reported two additional murders; four sexual assaults; 33 physical assaults, 21 of which involved the use of a weapon, eight of which were committed by a group and two in which a weapon was used. Transgender Europe also reported three threats, an arson attack, one incident of damage to property, one robbery and two incidents of thefts accompanied by threats.

The London Legal Group reported the murder of a transgender woman; one attempted murder; and four physical assaults, one of which was carried out by a group and another involved a knife.

Ukraine

Official figures recorded nine crimes based on bias against LGBT people.

Nash Mir reported four incidents in which gay men were murdered; 40 physical assaults, of which 26 caused injuries and three were committed by large groups; four incidents of robbery and one threat. The Congress of National Communities of Ukraine (CNCU) and the European Centre for Democracy Development also reported the murder of an LGBT activist.

Nash Mir, the CNCU and the European Centre for Democracy Development also reported two incidents of physical assault carried out by groups.  Nash Mir and the CNCU reported two additional arson attacks.

The CNCU reported six additional physical assaults and one arson attack. Fulcrum Ukraine reported one incident of vandalism and one threat. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported one arson attack against an LGBT community Centre.

United Kingdom

Official figures recorded 7,194 crimes based on bias against sexual orientation, and 858 crimes based on bias against transgender people in England and Wales.

Galop reported a physical assault carried out by a group in which a gay man was stabbed and suffered serious injuries; one robbery targeting a gay man, in which a baseball bat and knife were used by a group; and four incidents of threats, with victims including a transgender woman and a man with intellectual disability.

Transgender Europe reported the murder of an incarcerated transgender person.

United States of America

Official figures recorded 1,219 hate crimes based on sexual orientation, including 23 anti-heterosexual, and 118 hate crimes based on gender identity.


Developments

Armenia

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) supported a training event addressing hate crimes against LGBT people for the employees of the Asylum and Legal Units of the State Migration Service of Armenia.

Austria

Following its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Austrian authorities made the commitment to examine and respond to the recommendation to ensure that law enforcement officials conduct thorough and prompt investigations into hate crimes against LGBT people.

Azerbaijan

In its fourth report on Azerbaijan, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended that colour, language, citizenship and ethnic origin be included as protected characteristics in the criminal law provisions dealing with hate crimes. It also stated that LGBT people should be better protected in law and in practice. ECRI also highlighted the need for the police and prosecution services to thoroughly investigate all cases of hate crime and conduct outreach to groups likely to be targeted.

Bulgaria

Following its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Bulgarian authorities made the commitment to examine and respond to recommendations to enhance efforts to ensure that hate crimes are effectively investigated and prosecuted, including those perpetrated against LGBT people, migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. Other such recommendations included encouraging the reporting and proper recording of hate crimes, strengthening data-collection systems and providing training on hate crimes to law enforcement and judicial authorities.

Croatia

In its "Concluding observations on the third periodic report of Croatia", the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) called for strengthened efforts to combat racist attacks committed by law enforcement personnel, including against Roma people, by providing training and ensuring that hate crimes are properly investigated and prosecuted. The HRC highlighted the need to counter hate crimes against LGBT people, by ensuring that they are thoroughly investigated and offenders are prosecuted and sanctioned.

France

In its fifth report on France, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended amendments to the Criminal Code to include racist, homophobic and transphobic motivations as aggravating circumstances in criminal offences. ECRI also recommended that the authorities establish partnerships with civil society organizations working with Roma communities and people with disabilities to overcome under-reporting and to ensure that hate crime data-collection systems allow the disaggregation of data and the tracking of cases through the criminal justice system.

Georgia

Following its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Georgian authorities supported recommendations to address hate crimes motivated by bias related to sexual orientation or gender identity and to develop training programmes on hate crimes for police and judges, which the authorities consider already implemented or in the process of implementation. The Georgian authorities made the commitment to examine and respond to recommendations to establish a specialized police unit for investigating hate crimes and to increase the powers of the public defender's office.

In its fourth report on Georgia, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended the creation of a unified hate crime database, the creation of a police unit specialized in hate crime, and that training programmes for law enforcement officials and the judiciary be augmented and include information on hate crime against LGBT people. ECRI also called for the effective investigation and prosecution of all hate crime cases, notably hate crimes against Muslims.

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, in his "Update on the human rights situation," recommended adequately identifying, qualifying, investigating and prosecuting hate crimes, including those on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity; and acknowledged the recommendations on hate crimes issued by Georgia’s chief prosecutor.

Kyrgyzstan

Following its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Kyrgyz authorities expressed support for the recommendation to undertake necessary measures to prevent violence against LGBT people. The Kyrgyz authorities made the commitment to examine and respond to the recommendation to take additional steps to counter violence against LGBT people.

Lithuania

In its fifth report on Lithuania, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended that the Criminal Code be amended to include colour, citizenship and gender identity as protected characteristics. ECRI also observed the need for further training for police officers, prosecutors and judges on how to approach hate crimes.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

In its fifth report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended that the Criminal Code be amended to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. ECRI also suggested that hate crime training for law enforcement personnel and the judiciary be expanded, and under-reporting of hate crimes be addressed through confidence-building measures.

Mongolia

Following its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Mongolian authorities made the commitment to examine and respond to recommendations to amend the country’s criminal legislation to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics, to enhance its efforts to counter hate crime motivated by bias against these characteristics, and to collect data on hate crimes against LGBT people.

San Marino

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, in the annual activity report following his country visit to San Marino, recommended including gender identity as a protected characteristic in the criminal code.

Slovakia

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, in the annual activity report following his country visit to Slovakia, recommended including gender identity as a protected characteristic in the criminal code. The Commissioner also expressed concern at the manifestations of intolerance against Roma and Sinti people, and called on the authorities to improve the registration of hate crimes, including through the training of police.

Sweden

The Public Health Agency of Sweden conducted a survey for transgender people regarding health and health determinants, including experiences of harassment and abuse. The final report is publicly available. The Swedish Crime Victim Fund allocated funds to the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights in order to ensure victim support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people who experience a hate crime.

Turkey

Following its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Turkish authorities expressed support for the recommendation to ensure the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of hate crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Turkish authorities consider these measures already implemented or being implemented. Turkey committed itself to examine and respond to recommendations to amend criminal legislation to explicitly prohibit hate crimes against LGBT people and to publish disaggregated data on such hate crimes.

OSCE Region

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a number of resolutions on hate crime issues, including Resolution 2069 on recognizing and preventing neo-racism, which recommends that hate crime legislation include the protected characteristics of race, colour, ethnicity, language, religion, disability, migrant status, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. PACE also recognized the issue of under-reporting by calling for more systematic reporting of hate crimes.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a report on "Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity", recommended that hate crimes laws include homophobia and transphobia as aggravating factors; that all hate crimes against LGBT people be promptly and thoroughly investigated, holding perpetrators to account; and that data on hate crimes against LGBT people be collected and published.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published an update of their analysis of homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Recommendations included the need to overcome the widespread problem of under-reporting, by engaging with LGBT communities; improving data collection on hate crimes against LGBT people, including victimization surveys; and training police, prosecutors and judges on hate crimes motivated by bias against the victim’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

At the IDAHO 2015 Forum on ending hate crime and violence, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe called for the bias motivation of hate crimes targeting individuals or groups of people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics to be explicitly reflected in criminal legislation as aggravating circumstances. He also identified the low level of reporting, lack of victim support services and the specific situation of intersex people as areas of concern that need to be addressed.

The office of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe published a report, "Human rights and intersex people", highlighting the human rights challenges that intersex people face. The report recommends that national hate crime legislation cover sex characteristics as a protected characteristic.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a number of resolutions dealing with hate crime issues, including Resolution 2048, on discrimination against transgender people in Europe, which calls for the collection and analysis of data on hate crimes against transgender people, legislation to specifically protect transgender people against hate crimes, and the training of law enforcement officials and the judiciary on the issue.