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Study on hate crimes in Europe reveals little, US and Sweden only countries to collect anti-Gay data
Study on hate crimes in Europe reveals little, US and Sweden only countries to collect anti-Gay data
"Gay pride parades ... confronted anti-Gay diatribes ... poor police protection, and serious acts of violence...," study reports. by Lisa Keen - SGN Contributing Writer

The United States and Sweden are the only countries in the world that collect data on Gay-related hate crimes on a national basis. That is one finding of the first comprehensive study of the incidence of Gay-related hate crimes in Europe -a study that turned up very little hard data.

In a report released June 6, Human Rights First, a New York-based group, said only the United States and nine other of the 56 countries included in the survey had hate crime laws that included crimes motivated by hatred based on sexual orientation. The other nine include Andorra, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Because of the scarcity of data, the report was unable to state whether violence based on sexual orientation is rising or in decline, but anecdotal reports, said the report, provides "some basis to conclude that homophobic violence is both frequent in incidence and often of particular brutality."

"Gay pride parades and other events organized in a number of countries in 2006," wrote the study's authors, "confronted anti-Gay diatribes from political leaders, poor police protection, and serious acts of violence against those taking part in the parades and events. Criminal justice officials generally responded inadequately to the violence, making some arrests, but following through with few if any criminal prosecutions of the individuals responsible for the violence."

Most notorious among these incidents has been attacks on Pride participants in Russia. According to the New York Times, anti-Gay protesters pummeled Pride participants with "insults, eggs and fists."

In Romania, noted the study, at least 10 pride participants were injured when "over a thousand people protested the Bucharest Gay Pride parade" last year. (The 2007 event was marred with similar attacks last weekend.) In Latvia, "anti-Gay demonstrators hurled feces and eggs at Gay rights activists and their supporters who were leaving a church service&."

The data regarding sexual orientation-related hate crimes came in a sub-report to a comprehensive study of all types of hate crimes in European countries. The sub-report concludes that sexual orientation hate crimes are "vigorously promoted by both extremist and mainstream political and religious leaders across much of Europe and North America."

In some cases, Human Rights First was able to collect some data from non-governmental organizations but even that data had its limitations. An organization in France has been reporting Gay-related hate crimes for more than 10 years, noted the study, and saw a 12 percent increase in physical attacks between 2005 and 2006. In Germany, a leading Gay political organization was able to identify 138 incidents of anti-Gay violence but only half of those attacks were also reported to police. A similar organization in the Netherlands found that an anti-Gay attack was reported by a man, police records identified it as a common mugging.

Sweden had data reporting 563 (or 19 percent) of the country's 2,946 in 2005 were Gay-related attacks. By comparison, in the United States, 1,017 (or 14 percent) of the nation's 7,163 hate crimes reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2005 were motivated by sexual orientation.

Human Rights First has been monitoring Gay-related hate crimes in Europe since 2002, said the group's president Michael Posner.

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