In a hard hitting report, human rights charity Amnesty International has condemned the EU for failing to tackle homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, or to protect the continent’s citizens from discrimination, harassment and violence.

On 14 February 2012, Michelle, a young trans woman was beaten up by several people in a club in Catania. One of the assailants attempted to flirt with her on the dance floor. When she turned down his advances, he realised that she had a masculine voice and shouted, ‘Oh you’re a faggot!’ before punching her in the face. At least 10 people started punching and kicking her. Michelle later told Amnesty: ‘They wanted to butcher me just because of who I am, because I have a face that is a bit masculine and because they understood I was a trans person from my voice.’

Although the attack was reported to the police, and one man is facing trial, the transphobic element of the crime cannot be taken into account.

The 16-page report, Because of who I am: Homophobia, transphobia and hate crime in Europe, highlights gaps in the legislation of many European countries where sexual orientation and gender identity are not included as grounds on which hate crimes can be perpetrated. The report also points out the inadequacy of current EU standards on hate crime for tackling homophobic and transphobic violence.

Amnesty’s expert on discrimination in Europe and Central Asia, Marco Perolini, explained: ‘Hate-motivated violence has a particularly damaging and long-term effect on victims. Yet the EU as well as many of its members do not recognise crimes based on the perceived sexual orientation or gender identity as hate crimes in their legislation. This is unacceptable because sexual orientation and gender identity are protected from discrimination in international human rights law.

‘The existing double standards convey the idea that some forms of violence deserve less attention and less protection than others. That’s unacceptable for a European Union that prides itself on promoting equality and inclusion.’

According to a recent EU-wide survey, 80% of homophobic and transphobic violence is not reported to the police, often because of a fear of institutionalised homophobia and transphobia. In other cases, gay people do not report attacks against them because they are not openly gay and are afraid that their peers and families will find out.

Lack of protection against homophobic and transphobic hate crimes in EU

Lack of protection against homophobic and transphobic hate crimes in EU