Rising populism stokes homophobia across Europe – ILGA

Homophobic and transphobic rhetoric and other anti-LGBT+ hate crimes are rising across Europe, fuelled by divisive politics and socially conservative groups that also campaign against abortion access, [ILGA-Europe] said on Tuesday.

Hate speech by political and religious leaders increased in 17 countries, including in countries such as Portugal, Spain, and Finland, known for being LGBT-friendly. Homophobic violence also rose across the region, according to a report by ILGA-Europe.

Poland’s nationalist ruling party railed against ‘LGBT ideology’ in its re-election campaign last year, […] and Spanish and Finnish politicians criticised Pride marches.

“It’s not just countries of eastern Europe where people traditionally think there is more organised opposition – the groups that are opposing LGBTI equality are popping up in more places,” said Evelyne Paradis, the executive director of ILGA-Europe.

In March 2019, then-deputy prime minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, who leads the far-right League party, spoke in Verona at the World Congress of Families, a conference that promotes [what they term] the ‘natural family’ against LGBT+ and abortion rights.

“Those groups tend to be more active where there is overall insecurity and anxiety in the population, where the overall political discourse, not just on LGBTI rights, is a bit more toxic, where populist parties are very active” Paradis said.

A rise in hate-speech can lead to increases in violent hate-crime, said Helga Eggebo, a Norwegian researcher at the Nordland Research Institute, who has studied discrimination.

“There is a relationship between general negative attitudes, hate-speech and violent crime against minority groups,” she said. “For example, there was a documented rise in violent hate crime against Muslim women after 9/11.”

While ILGA-Europe’s report was not based on comparative, quantitative, hate-crime data, Paradis said there was a “heavy trend” of increased anti-LGBT+ hate-speech and violence in a majority of European countries.

She noted, however, that there was more recognition of same-sex civil partnerships and parental rights, and a growing movement to ban medically-unnecessary genital surgeries on intersex infants, who are born with atypical sex characteristics.

More countries, including Germany, are also considering outlawing so-called conversion therapy […]

“It’s not all doom and gloom,” Paradis said.

-Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage – Thomson Reuters Foundation

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