Thursday, 30 May 2013

Malta Today: Fear and loathing in school: 91% report negative experience because they are gay

Experiences of over 93,000 LGBT people from all across the European Union recorded in largest ever hate crime and discrimination survey
Friday 17 May 2013 - 08:00 by Matthew Vella

MGRM's anti-bullying poster, part of a campaign the gay rights movement took to Maltese schools in 2012

The EU's largest LGBT hate crime and discrimination survey ever conducted shows that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people cannot be themselves in their daily lives.

Many hide their identity and live in isolation or even fear. Others experience discrimination, and even violence, when being themselves, the survey carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), shows.

"Everyone should feel free to be themselves at home, work, at school and in public - but clearly, LGBT people often don't. Results from FRA's survey show that fear, isolation and discrimination are common in Europe's LGBT community," FRA Director Morten Kjaerum said. "We need EU-wide action to break down the barriers, eliminate the hate and create a society where everyone can fully enjoy their rights, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity is."

The survey found that two our of three LGBT respondents were hiding their gay identity at schools. At least 60% personally experienced negative comments or conduct at school because they were LGBT while over 80% in every EU Member State recall negative comments or bullying of LGBT youth at school.

35% of Maltese respondents reported feeling discriminated against in the last 12 months in areas other than employment, highlighting the need for the introduction of anti-discrimination legislation outside the field of employment.

In the field of education, 91% of Maltese respondents reported having heard negative comments or having seen negative conduct because a schoolmate was perceived to be LGBT during their schooling before the age of 18.

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19% of respondents felt discriminated against at work or when looking for a job, despite legal protection under EU law. This underlines the need for EU-wide action to counter the many obstacles LGBT people face to their basic rights in their everyday life. Other findings show:
- 26% of LGBT people who answered the survey had been attacked or threatened with violence in the last five years.
- 66% of respondents across all EU Member States were scared of holding hands in public with a same-sex partner.
- For gay and bisexual men respondents it was about 75%.

The survey also reveals that transgender people are the most affected among LGBT respondents to have personally felt discriminated against, particularly in employment and healthcare. About 30% said they were victims of violence or threats of violence more than three times in the year before the survey.

High levels of under-reporting of instances of discrimination and hate crime were also detected. This is despite 56% of respondents being aware of laws against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Half of all victims of violence and harassment felt that the police would do nothing. This pattern is not unique to the LGBT group researched. FRA found such under-reporting also in other groups, for instance, among members of ethnic minorities

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