LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

EU adopts Directive offering protection to victims of homophobic and transphobic crimes

Today the European Parliament adopted a directive which establishes a set of measures to strengthen victims’ rights in the European Union.

The Directive acknowledges the existence of specific protection needs of victims of crimes committed with a bias or discriminatory motive related to their personal characteristics. These characteristics include sexual orientation, gender and gender identity or expression.

This Directive is the first international piece of legislation referring to gender expression. Its significance is that all trans and gender-variant people will be covered as will be all people who do not present their gender in a stereotyped way.

The Directive took on board ILGA-Europe’s call for consideration of the situation of LGBTI victims of bias-motivated crimes and of gender-based violence. The Directive makes clear that these elements shall be taken as factors of an individual assessment of potential protection needs, offered to all victims.

Many victims will benefit from this Directive, taking into consideration their concerns and fears, as regards to the right to protection from further victimisation or intimidation, to be interviewed by specifically trained professionals, and not to be questioned unnecessarily on private life during court proceedings, the rights to an appropriate support throughout criminal proceedings.

The EU Member States will have three years to fully implement this Directive and ILGA-Europe will monitor the implementation process. In particular, ILGA-Europe considers that the Directive’s provisions on victims support services, training of practitioners and co-operation of services working with victims shall be transposed adequately to ensure that the identification of victims’ specific protection needs is really guaranteed. The Member States are expected to formally adopt the legislation in the coming months.

Gabi Calleja, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:

“This is a very important, needed and timely piece of legislation for the LGBTI community. LGBTI people are subjected to hate crimes across Europe and the new directive provides a very useful framework on how the European Union Member States should help the victims of crimes committed on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. ILGA-Europe particularly welcomes the improvements achieved during the adoption of this Directive.

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, added:

“Today the European Parliament made a significant step against hate crimes motivated by homophobia and transphobia. What ILGA-Europe wants to see next is the improvement of an EU definition of hate crime which needs to explicitly recognise those grounds. Currently, the EU law does not include homophobia and transphobia in the definition of hate crime and its high time to update EU laws to ensure these grounds are recognised and dealt with on an equal par as crimes committed against people of various ages, ethnicities, abilities/disabilities, and religions.”

Text of a directive on of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime.

Media release by the European Parliament.