March 5. 2024. 8:05

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ILGA-Europe reports spike in violence towards LGBTQI+

The 2023 annual report from the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) found an increase in the frequency and intensity of violent acts against the LGBTQI+ community.

ILGA-Europe’s annual report looked at data from January 2022 to December 2022 in 54 countries, including EU member states and the Western Balkans.

“The most striking finding this year is the hate and violence reported across the region. We have done the annual report for 12 years, and this year’s report finds that 2022 was the most violent year for LGBTQI+ people,” said Katrin Hugendubel, advocacy director of ILGA-Europe, during a press conference Monday (20 February).

Hate speech towards LGBTQI+ people was reported to have “peaked around Prides in Austria and France and by politicians and religious leaders in Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Serbia,” according to ILGA-Europe’s report.

France’s interior ministry reported a 28% rise in hate crimes between 2020 and 2021, Hugendubel said.

Not only has violence against LGBTQI+ people increased in the previous 12 months, but the report states that these hate crimes increased “in the severity of that violence”.

The violence included an attack outside an LGBTQI+ bar in Oslo, the death of an activist in Azerbaijan and a terrorist attack that occurred outside of an LGBTQI+ bar in Bratislava.

In addition, a spike in violence towards transgender people was observed across the continent.

“Amongst the murders reported, the high number of trans people, especially trans women, being killed stands out. There is a clear correlation with the extreme rise in transphobic hate we’ve seen over the years, especially in countries working to reform trans rights,” said Hugendubel.

ILGA-Europe also raised concerns over an increase in trans hate speech online, something it said is a “serious issue online in Armenia, Austria, Latvia, Montenegro, and Romania”.

Perpetrators of such incidents of hate speech came from politicians and state representatives in a number of countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. According to ILGA-Europe’s report, it was also present among religious leaders in Greece and Slovakia.

In some countries such as the UK, Norway and Spain, an increase in transphobic rhetoric coincided with hostile media reporting.

In Finland, hate speech was reported during trans law debates in parliament specifically targeted trans individuals and trans women, the report said.

In April 2021, Finland’s state prosecutor expressed concern over an increase in anti-LGBTQI+ stances in Finland due to hate speech.

Outside of parliament debates, hate speech and violence were also reported during Finland’s pride events by its organisers. Acts reported included “vandalism and hate speech against prides, they reported rainbow benches being set on fire, and at two Prides homemade bombs were detonated,” said Hugendubel.

However, support for LGBTQI+ rights was also reported in countries such as Georgia, Hungary and Poland which have previously been known for generally hostile stances towards the community.

“[In Hungary] despite anti-LGBT laws and policies, most Hungarians don’t consider homosexual propaganda an important issue. In Poland, two-thirds of people support marriage equality, and 60 per cent support the abolition of anti-LGBT resolutions,” said Hugendubel.