Although there have been great advancements regarding the equal treatment of members of the LGBTI community in Europe, there is still a long road ahead. In particular, the lack of adequate legislation criminalising hate speech and hate crime is manifested regularly through aggression towards LGBTI people. This applies to most European Nations, even those which have adopted quite progressive legislation.
This map demonstrates to which extend anti hate crime and hate speech policy has been implemented. Few countries like France have managed to cover a majority of criteria (90%), many states however have failed to fulfill any to this date.
Concurrent with the creation of an adequate legal framework, the LGBTI community needs to be acknowledged and respected by the general population in order to achieve sustainable change. Therefore, political will and leadership are vital and the opinions of political leaders especially important and powerful. By speaking out against hate crime and hate speech, politicians have the opportunity to help furthering the process of establishing true equality. Additionally, the work of NGOs and the actions of public figures, such as religious leaders, and the media have a great impact on the portrayal and treatment of the LGBTI community.
"When leaders speak out against hate crimes, this sends a strong message of reassurance to affected communities"
- Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)
The NGO "LGBT Network", which is based in the UK, but operates throughout Europe, served as example of the impact such organisations can have, when they initiated a petition to legalise same-sex marriage in Scotland, laying the groundwork for the following reforms. The United Nations designated 21st of March the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 1966, in memory of the 69 people killed six years earlier in Sharpeville, South Africa, during a peaceful demonstration to protest against the apartheid system. Now, many NGOs are promoting the implementation of anti hate crime policy by raising awareness, further informing the general population and actively responding to hate speech with counter speech.
- Rainbow Europe map, https://rainbow-europe.org/#0/8693/0
- EU Agency for Fundamental Rights: http://fra.europa.eu/en/press-release/2014/political-leaders-have-central-role-play-countering-racism-and-hate-crime
- LGBT Network