EU must get tough on homophobia, transphobia

EU must get tough on homophobia, transphobia
(Brussels, 16 May 2013) On the eve of tomorrow’s International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, Amnesty International has pressed the European Union to uphold the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people inside the Union and in its relations with non-EU countries. The organisation has challenged the EU to show its commitment by backing forthcoming LGBTI events.
“The EU should do its utmost to ensure that the Kiev Pride goes ahead on 25 May”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “That’s how it can demonstrate its support for freedom of expression and assembly, and robustly condemn threats of violence against LGBTI people, whether within or beyond the Union’s frontiers.”
Around the world, many people’s human rights are violated because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Discrimination against LGBTI people is especially high when they seek health care, education, jobs and homes. 
In many countries, consensual same-sex conduct is illegal and LGBTI people often suffer violence, harassment, arbitrary arrest, unlawful detention, imprisonment and torture and can face the death penalty in some countries. They are also denied the right to freedom of expression and assembly. In some countries Pride events are banned by city authorities or receive inadequate police protection when participants are threatened by violent attack.
Countries including Lithuania, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, have passed laws (or are debating them) which seek to restrict LGBTI people’s enjoyment of their rights to freedom of expression. 
Attempts to hold Pride parades in Ukraine have repeatedly failed because of threatened violence and the authorities’ failure to protect participants adequately. Amnesty International has expressed misgivings that the 25 May Kiev Pride march will not proceed for the same reasons. Failure to protect Pride participants’ freedom of expression and peaceful assembly exemplifies the Ukrainian authorities’ failure to protect LGBTI people from hate crimes, illustrated by Nothing to be proud of, Amnesty International’s latest report on homophobic and transphobic hate crimes in Ukraine.
LGBTI people who live in EU countries are also targets of violence. According to the Fundamental Rights Agency, in the EU eight out of ten cases of violence against LGBTI people go unreported. In some EU countries (eg Bulgaria and Italy) sexual orientation and gender identity are not listed among explicit grounds for prosecuting hate crimes. In others, although some laws exist, alleged hate motives are not thoroughly investigated. Adequate EU standards for tackling homophobic and transphobic violence are still lacking.
In many countries in the EU and elsewhere, people with trans identities are pathologised, and they are either flatly refused legal gender recognition or can only receive it if they accept conditions such as compulsory sterilisation and divorce, which violate their right to self-determination, bodily integrity and health.
For more information please contact:
Peter Clarke  
Media & Communications Officer
European Institutions Office
Amnesty International
Tel: +32 (0) 2 548 2773