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Combating homophobia in Europe
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Question from Thibaud, France:

“Twelve years after the Netherlands first legalised gay marriage, similar legislation in France has reignited homophobic sentiment. What about the rest of Europe? Is there any legislation against homophobia?”

Answer from Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe (Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in Europe):

“The first thing to say is that homophobia and transphobia exist everywhere and will continue to exist. Some of it is based on lack of knowledge and ignorance, some of it is based on fear, some of it is based on hatred.

“What we see across Europe is that as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans and intersex people become more visible, it often leads to an increase in homophobia and transphobia as expressed in the public sphere. What is very unfortunate, and it is what we have seen in France, is that very often, still, political leaders and opinion leaders make use of some of the public debates about marriage equality and other types of laws to fuel that homophobia for political gains.

“And that is really what happened in France, but it is also something that we have observed in many other countries, because the other thing to say is that homophobia and transphobia is truly a pan-European phenomenon. There is no one country that is exempt from it, whether it is Sweden or the UK or Greece or Ukraine or Portugal, the homophobia and transphobia that gets expressed is something that we see in all of the countries.

“Now, does it get addressed at the European Union level? Unfortunately not at the moment. What exists at the European level is protection against discrimination in the sphere of employment, but that is limited to the sphere of employment, so the discrimination that LGBTI (= Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Trans and Intersex) people face in schools, for instance, in access to healthcare, or in being protected against violence that they might experience on the street, that is not something that the EU has yet adopted protection for.”

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