■ A Russian Orthodox priest blesses a
fascist skinhead prior to an anti-gay demonstration in Moscow in 2006.
NEW YORK, June 6, 2007 – A new
survey of hate crimes in Europe by a leading human rights organization finds
a rising level of crimes committed against individuals on the basis of their
sexual orientation, even as governments generally fail to monitor or report
The report was released today by Human Rights First at a meeting on
combating discrimination held in Bucharest, Romania by the Organization for
Security and Co-operation in Europe.
“The growing public presence of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and
transgender (LGBT) community in many countries has resulted in a violent
backlash,” said Maureen Byrnes, executive director of Human Rights First.
“These crimes often go unreported
because the bias and stigma against these groups remain high and many
governments fail to offer sufficient protections for victims of anti-gay
Human Rights First’s 2007 Hate Crime Survey is the
most recent report which examines hate-driven violence in the region from
the Russian Federation and the Central Asian states across Europe to North
America (the countries of the 56-member Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe).
The survey includes companion
reports on anti-Semitism and Islam phobia and spotlights certain countries
in greater detail. For example:
In February 2006, a group of boys confessed to murdering a
Brazilian transgender woman living in isolation in Portugal.
Also in February 2006, an 18-year-old male wounded
three people with a hatchet and a handgun at a gay bar in the United
In March 2006, several people
entered a private party in Croatia organized by a gay and lesbian group,
attacking victims with glass bottles.
“In countries in which LGBT people have become more visible, their
increased public presence has in some cases brought with it a rise in
homophobic rhetoric and a violent backlash” the report finds.
“Such was the case when gay pride
events were held in five eastern European cities during the spring and
summer of 2006.”
“Only ten countries in Europe and North America currently have laws
which enable a sexual orientation bias to be considered an aggravating
circumstance in the commission of a crime,” the study continues.
“Even fewer – just Canada, Sweden,
the United Kingdom, and the United States – have made a commitment to
monitor such attacks in their official reporting on hate crimes. Leaders of
the gay communities in many countries charge that there is a serious
underreporting of these crimes, due in part to anti-gay prejudices – both
real and perceived – on the part of the police.
“NGOs in a number of countries have
sought to fill the information void with data collection of their own.”
Although countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the
United States are improving policies for the reporting of anti-gay crimes,
the widespread lack of data on these crimes indicates that underreporting is
still a major problem.
Among other recommendations in its
survey, Human Rights First urges governments to adopt stricter laws, provide
more resources to law enforcement and establish official systems to monitor
and report hate crimes on a regular basis.
To view the full report, including all 10 recommendations for
governments, please visit
http://www.humanrightsfirst.org. For the companion
report, please click
Posted: 7 June 2007 at 22:30 UK