Step-by-step advances are being made towards improving the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people in Europe. This year’s International day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, on 17 May, underlines the need to strengthen alliances to continue to build on this progress to help combat intolerance, hate and discrimination towards LGBTI people.
Five years ago to the day, the Agency’s released findings from the largest ever survey on hate crime and discrimination against LGBT people in the EU. It spoke of how that many LGBT people cannot be themselves in their daily lives. Many were scared of simply holding hands in public with their same-sex partner. It also gave an indication of the levels of fear, discrimination, and hate that many faced when being themselves all across the EU back then.
The survey findings helped raise awareness about the suffering many LGBTI people regularly face in their daily lives. The findings also helped focus efforts to bring about the change that LGBTI communities have long advocated for.
This day, celebrating sexual and gender diversity, is a call to keep strengthening alliances. For example, this year once again FRA will join the Diplomats for Equality initiative to promote the rights of LGBTI people. In this way, organisations and communities can work together to help foster tolerance and understanding, ensure safety, fight violence, and push to change laws and policies.
Indeed, a number of advances have already been made reflecting growing recognition among policy makers to end inequalities. For instance, in 2015 the European Commission published a list of actions to advance LGBTI equality. This list offers guidance to Member States on how to ensure legal protection of LGBTI people and their families, and how to monitor and enforce existing rights.
In parallel, in Member States changes are afoot: Same-sex marriage is being increasingly recognised; guidance for medical professionals is becoming more trans-friendly; and gender markers in official documentation are starting to offer alternatives to male or female to take into consideration intersex people.
However, to see whether such changes in laws and policies are mirrored in societal attitudes, FRA will repeat its survey on hate crime and discrimination against LGBT people in 2019. This time it will also cover the experiences of intersex people. The results will help guide future initiatives and alliances to realign policies with reality on the ground. In this way, together, we can bring about equality, and counter discrimination and intolerance.