The EU must step up and strengthen its standards on hate crime. This is key to ensuring that any discriminatory motive is duly taken into account across the whole of the EU.
Brussels 28 October 2014
The European Union (EU) and its member states must urgently act to prevent and prosecute homophobic and transphobic crime, Amnesty International said today. The call comes ahead of today’s Italian EU Presidency and Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) joint Conference on tackling Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination in Brussels.
“The daily and ongoing violence experienced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people in Europe is a serious and heinous form of discrimination ”, said Nicolas J. Beger, director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “However, there is a severe lack of adequate standards to tackle homophobic and transphobic violence both at EU and national levels. There is an urgent need for concrete EU action to duly protect the victims and prosecute the perpetrators accordingly”.
In order to fully combat homophobic and transphobic crime, and bring justice to the victims, the discriminatory motive must be recognised and responded to by specific national legislation.
In several EU member states today however, there is a stark absence of criminal law that explicitly includes sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds on which hate crimes are perpetrated. These grounds are not taken into account when investigating, exposing, nor prosecuting related hate crimes.
‘‘Too often, we see little to no action by member states’ authorities to thoroughly acknowledge, investigate and prosecute the hate motive behind attacks and discrimination towards LGBTI people”, added Beger. “The EU must step up and strengthen its standards on hate crime. This is key to ensuring that any discriminatory motive is duly taken into account across the whole of the EU.”
Amnesty International is calling on the European Commission to propose new standards to combat discriminatory violence on all grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity, and on member states to support such an initiative.
Mihail Stoyanov: murdered for being perceived to be gay; remembered as a victim of hooliganism
On 30 September 2008, Mihail Stoyanov, a 25 year old medical student, was brutally attacked and murdered in Borisova Gardens in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia. Mihail’s murder however has yet to be recognised as a hate crime, in its most violent form. Instead the prosecution has been based on hooliganism despite the investigation clearly revealing that he was killed because he was perceived to be gay – witnesses testified that Mihail was killed by a group who claimed to be ‘cleansing the park of gays’.
Despite this, the homophobic motive behind the murder was no longer mentioned in the factual part of the indictment. The true motive behind Mihail’s killing is therefore unlikely to be fully investigated or exposed, and the perpetrators will not be duly prosecuted along these lines.
“The EU and member states owe it to Mihail and all other victims of hate crime to acknowledge the true motive of such crimes. Only then can Europe move towards bringing about true justice for the victims and ending these heinous crimes once and for all,” said Beger.
Hate crimes are criminal offences targeting persons or properties because of their real or perceived association with a group defined by a protected characteristic such as ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
It is the discriminatory nature of the motive that sets hate crimes apart from other criminal acts, which is why it is crucial that the investigation aims at clarifying the circumstances surrounding the perpetration of a crime.
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