Amnesty: ‘The EU must step up and strengthen its standards on hate crime’

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The European Union and its member states must urgently act to prevent and prosecute homophobic and transphobic crime, Amnesty International has said.

The human rights organisation made the remarks in response to today’s Italian EU Presidency and Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) joint Conference on tackling Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination in Brussels.

Amnesty International is calling on the European Commission to propose new standards to combat discriminatory violence on all grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity, and on member states to support such an initiative.

Nicolas Beger, director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said: “The daily and ongoing violence experienced by LGBTI people in Europe is a serious and heinous form of discrimination.”

He continued: “However, there is a severe lack of adequate standards to tackle homophobic and transphobic violence both at EU and national levels. There is an urgent need for concrete EU action to duly protect the victims and prosecute the perpetrators accordingly”.

‘‘Too often, we see little to no action by member states’ authorities to thoroughly acknowledge, investigate and prosecute the hate motive behind attacks and discrimination towards LGBTI people”.

Mr Beger added: “The EU must step up and strengthen its standards on hate crime. This is key to ensuring that any discriminatory motive is duly taken into account across the whole of the EU.”

The campaigner also mentioned the 2008 murder of medical student Mihail Stoyanov in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.

Mr Stoyanov’s murder has yet to be recognised as a hate crime. Instead the prosecution has been based on hooliganism despite the investigation clearly revealing that he was killed because he was perceived to be gay – witnesses testified that Mr Stoyanov’s was killed by a group who claimed to be “cleansing the park of gays”.

He said: “The EU and member states owe it to Mihail and all other victims of hate crime to acknowledge the true motive of such crimes. Only then can Europe move towards bringing about true justice for the victims and ending these heinous crimes once and for all.”

Last week, the UK’s Crime and Prevention Minister, Norman Baker, said more needed to be done to tackle homophobic and transphobic crime in Britain.

Mr Baker spoke as the Home Office released hate-crime figures from 2013-2014. From 2013 to this year, there were 44,480 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 5% in the previous period.