Vienna – Levels of “fear, violence and discrimination remain high” for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Europe, according to a survey published Thursday by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA).
Even though more LGBT people feel able to be open about their identities, 43 percent of those asked felt discriminated against in the 12 months before the survey was conducted in 2019.
That represents a rise of six points since the FRA carried out a similar survey in 2012.
The difference is even starker among transgender respondents, 60 percent of whom felt discriminated against in 2019 as opposed to only 43 percent in 2012.
In the largest survey of its kind, FRA questioned 140,000 LGBT people in the 27 EU member states, as well as Britain, Serbia and North Macedonia.
For the first time, respondents included intersex people and 15- to 17-year-olds.
The Vienna-based agency says discrimination is exacerbated when negative messages about LGBT people are relayed by the media, politicians and other public figures.
EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli said it was “worrying” that “we have recently witnessed within the EU anti-LGBTI incidents such as attacks on prides, the adoption of ‘LGBTI ideology-free zone’ declarations, fines for LGBTI-friendly advertisements and others.”
However her statement stopped short of naming Poland, where such incidents have occurred.
The report cites Malta and Ireland as examples of places where respondents have perceived an increase in tolerance since 2012.
However, six out of 10 “often or always avoid holding hands in public with same-sex partners”.
This masks wide variation across the continent, from more than eight out of 10 in Poland avoiding hand-holding to fewer than four in ten in Luxembourg.
The survey also found that 11 percent of respondents reported experiencing a physical or sexual attack in the five years before the survey, with higher rates for trans and intersex people.
When it comes to their economic situation, one in three LGBT people said they have difficulties in making ends meet.
The situation is again worse for intersex and trans where the rate of those in difficulty goes up to around half.
FRA director Michael O’Flaherty said that LGBT people’s “job and health care difficulties may worsen due to COVID-19”.
There are encouraging signs, with 48 percent of respondents aged 15 to 17 saying that in school someone has always or often supported, defended or protected them and their rights.
The trend was in part explained by the fact that younger respondents were much more likely to indicate that LGBT issues had been discussed during their time at school.
The FRA saw a need for member states to “build a culture of zero tolerance towards violence and harassment of the LGBTI community,” as well as training for police to ensure they detect and investigate hate crimes.