ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey (ERA), in partnership with member organisations Queer Sport Split, QueerANarchiv and LGBT Platform Split, hosted two meetings with the LGBTIQ+ communities and relevant stakeholders at the LGBT Center in Split, Croatia, on 6 and 7 July 2022. The meetings aimed to contribute to higher reporting and increasing trust in the system by promoting the You Are Heard platform.
On the evening of 6 July, during a workshop for Split Pride banners preparation, the team of ERA and Queer Sport Split presented the You Are Heard platform, providing information on how the platforms works, its safety and security, how and who is managing the cases and where to find support. The community members at the event supported the platform and provided recommendations on how to improve the visibility and accessibility of the platform by the LGBTIQ+ community members that are not directly connected to the LGBT Center or other LGBTIQ+ organisations in Split and Croatia. These include organising presentations in different venues or events, printing leaflets or posters, and distributing those to educational institutions and other organisations.
On 7 July, a multi-stakeholder meeting was held in the LGBT Center Split with representatives from Social Welfare Office, Police, Ombudswoman, and LGBTIQ+ organisations. The primary purpose of the meeting was to discuss the underreporting of hate-motivated incidents based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics, the reasons and how to work together to improve access to justice for LGBTIQ+ people.
The representative from Split Police shared information on the ongoing training they received and the experience exchange they had with Finland on working with LGBTIQ+ survivors of violence. The representative also reported on the documented cases in their police station on incidents of hate based on sexual orientation. The representative from the Social Welfare Centre talked about the complexity of cases they have in the Welfare and how many factors weigh in and mix. They also shared a few anonymised cases and presented how they acted in the best interest of the LGBTIQ+ survivor.
The Deputy Ombudswoman presented a few key findings from their last report, which included:
Based on their research on understanding discrimination, more than 50% of participants are not aware of the law on the protection of discrimination;
They record a rapid increase in hate speech. The most common grounds are ethnicity and sexual orientation;
The colleague from Queer Sport Split presented the key finding from the recent survey they conducted, which include:
Experience of violence and/or discrimination: 56 % were exposed to some form of violence and/or discrimination, 40% repeatedly;
Type of violence: 87% have experienced some form of hate speech, 58% psycho-emotional violence, 39% physical or sexual violence;
Reporting: 89% did not report the incident to any institution or organisation;
Reasons for not reporting: 48% did not have trust in police, 42% feared that they would not be taken seriously, 35% have indicated fear of further re-traumatisation but also lack of knowledge on to whom and how to report, 17% mentioned shame and guilt.
They also presented the programs and services offered to LGBTIQ+ people in Split and the region.
At the meeting, ERA’s representatives gave a brief overview of the regional situation of the access to justice for LGBTIQ+ people and the work ERA is doing in this regard. Further, they presented the regional You Are Heard platform for reporting and documenting hate crimes and other incidents of hate against LGBTIQ+ people.
This was the first meeting that took place in Split between relevant stakeholders focused on LGBTIQ+ concerns. All participants were pleased to be invited, and they all pointed out the need to meet in the future regularly.