Homophobic language and hate speech against transgender people are on the rise in many European countries, according to the ILGA-Europe’s “Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People in Europe and Central Asia”, released in February.
The annual report, which includes events that occurred between January and December 2020, provides a snapshot of what happened during the year, at national, regional and international levels, and it documents progress and trends regarding the human rights situation of LGBTI people.
According to the report: “There has also been a substantial rise in hate speech, both from official sources, in the media and online.”
In reports received by ILGA-Europe from different countries, “we see a stark rise in abuse and hate speech against LGBTI people; many who became vulnerable to homelessness have been forced to move back in to hostile family and community situations; LGBTI organizations have had to skew their work towards provision of basic necessities like food and shelter while many governments leave LGBTI people out of their relief packages; and there has been a resurgence of authorities and officials using LGBT people as scapegoats while authoritarian regimes are empowered to isolate and legislate without due process.”
It also noted that the trend of politicians verbally attacking LGBTI people has grown sizeably and spread in countries including Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Moldova, North Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, and Turkey.
Religious leaders also propagated hate-speech in Belarus, Greece, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine, many of them directly blaming LGBTI people for COVID-19.
Hate speech on social media has risen in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Malta, Montenegro,
Russia and Turkey, and in the general media in Slovenia and Ukraine, while hate speech is an ongoing issue in Georgia, Ireland, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the UK.
There are also countries where LGBTQIA rights are not only stagnant, but even backslid. In Kazakhstan, for instance, legislators introduced a discriminatory norm in the healthcare law, raising the age limit for trans healthcare access from 18 to 21 and excluding those with a mental health or “behavioral disorder” diagnosis. Similarly in Kyrgyzstan, a new version of the law “On acts of civil status” came into force in autumn, making it no longer possible for trans people to change their legal gender marker.
Fortunately, according tot the report, “many courts and governmental institutions are beginning to have a larger awareness of this growing trend, and beginning to talk about regulating online hate speech, including on the EU level.”