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Organisation

Gay Help Line and OSCAD.

Start and end date

Start date:

2015.

End date:

Ongoing (as of May 2021).

Scope

National.

Target group(s)

  • LGBTI people.
  • Police officers.

Funding

  • OSCAD is funded by the Ministry of the Interior.
  • Gay Help Line receives funding through the National Office against Racial Discrimination calls for tenders and through other public calls for tenders/projects at local and national levels. Further funding comes from private foundations, the corporate sector and pharmaceutical companies. Gay Help Line also organises crowd funding and public fundraising or awareness-raising campaigns.

Objectives

  • The cooperation between OSCAD and Gay Help Line started in response to the need of Gay Help Line to find specific support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI+) minors who were victims of domestic abuse and violence as a consequence of their coming out.
  • Support victims of LGBTI+-motivated hate crime.
  • Enable referrals between OSCAD and Gay Help Line, and, if needed, between OSCAD and the police.
  • Gather data on homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination.

Outputs

  • Reporting tool.
  • Referral mechanism.
  • Regular training sessions for volunteers.

Description

Gay Help Line is the national contact centre for victims of homophobia and transphobia in Italy. Since 2005, Gay Help Line has been at the front line, supporting victims of discrimination and violence against LGBTI+ people by providing legal, psychological and medical assistance. Gay Help Line is mostly run by volunteers and provides a welcoming, inclusive and safe space to talk and seek assistance. The helpline can be reached from all over the country.

Training sessions for the volunteers are organised on a regular basis. Staff are trained to provide a first response to the victims of homophobic and transphobic discrimination and violence and to record incidents on recording forms.

Contact was first established between the directors of Gay Help Line and OSCAD. Since then, Gay Help Line has contacted OSCAD about reported cases that are categorised as hate crime/hate incidents. Since 2015, the organisations have cooperated on a regular basis, and the cooperation has strengthened over the years. Currently, the de facto cooperation is not formalised through a memorandum of understanding or other official agreement.

In practice, cooperation happens at various levels. When Gay Help Line receives a report of hate-motivated violence, the report is shared with OSCAD by phone or email. On receiving the report, OSCAD supports the work of Gay Help Line in different ways:

  • OSCAD assesses and evaluates any issues that emerge in the reporting of the case to the police;
  • where possible, OSCAD facilitates contact with the local police;
  • where possible, OSCAD refers the victim or Gay Help Line to police officers who are trained on how to deal with victims of homophobia and transphobia, to ease the reporting process for the victim;
  • where the response from the police is deemed insufficient, OSCAD facilitates contact with police officers who are experienced in the field, to have the police report amended.

In 2021, this cooperation has grown. From February to March 2021, a staff member at Gay Help Line participated in the Facing Facts online course on monitoring hate crime for civil society organisations and public authorities in Italy. Participation in the online course, which is financially supported by the European Commission and co-facilitated by OSCAD, has strengthened the relationship between Gay Help Line and OSCAD. Since then, OSCAD has spoken at Gay Help Line events and participated as a trainer in the annual training of volunteers at Gay Help Line.

Critical success factors

  • Over the years, Gay Help Line’s dedication, consistency and reliability have made it a reliable interlocutor for institutions and victims.
  • Time and resources are invested in the training of volunteers as Gay Help Line’s first responders.
  • Responses and actions that Gay Help Line put in place are efficient and are proven to be effective, despite the complexity of its structure and its need to manage a high number of volunteers.
  • Gay Help Line has a solid social mission. Working with a large network of volunteers, although challenging, is in line with its social mission, which is further supported by teamwork.
  • Mutual trust.
  • The willingness and dedication of key change agents, from both OSCAD and Gay Help Line, set the conditions to allow cooperation to happen in practice and to be effective.

Actors involved in the design and implementation of the practice

Between 30 and 40 volunteers work for Gay Help Line to answer victims’ calls.

The OSCAD Secretariat has seven staff members.

Monitoring and evaluation

There is not a shared monitoring and evaluation system between Gay Help Line and OSCAD. Gay Help Line prepares a quarterly internal qualitative report, which contains information about recorded requests for support, the number and types of services offered, procedures, the victims (social information and general details) and outcomes of their interventions (e.g. number of cases reported to the authorities and outcomes of the psychological support). This report also specifies if a case was managed with the support of OSCAD and, if applicable, the result of the joint intervention.

Publicly available contact details

Gay Help Line
Email: info@gayhelpline.it

OSCAD
Email: oscad@dcpc.interno.it