The results of the survey on the experiences of LGBTI people in Southeastern Europe reveal a collective experience of discrimination, harassment, exclusion and violence. The report “Life on the Margins: Survey Results of the Experience of LGBTI people in South Eastern Europe” was published by the World Bank in partnership with IPSOS Strategic Marketing, ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for the Western Balkans and Turkey, and the Williams Institute at UCLA. It analyzes the responses of more than 2,300 LGBTI persons across seven countries in the Western Balkans region: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro as well as two European Union member states Croatia and Slovenia. This is the largest data set ever collected on LGBTI rights in our region.
The collective experiences of LGBTI people in the countries surveyed paint a distressing picture of the harmful effects of discrimination, harassment, exclusion and violence. One-third (32%) of all respondents (and 54% of transgender respondents) report having been victims of physical violence in the past five years. Despite the frequent discrimination, harassment and violence that LGBTI people face, specific incidents are seldom reported. Of those cases of violence, only 17% have been reported to the police and action was taken against the perpetrator in only 16% of the most serious cases of violence reported to the police. Discrimination, is even more widespread, considering that 92% of respondents report that discrimination based on sexual orientation is common, 90% because a person is transgender and 67% because a person is intersex.
It is also of concern to report that event though five years have passed since the 2012 FRA LGBT survey conducted in the European Union, the situation for LGBTI people in the Western Balkan countries is much worse than the experience of their peers in the EU, across nearly all dimensions. This poor situation of LGBTI rights in the region, exists even though for the past 10 years many laws have been introduced, particularly those on protection from discrimination.
The report provides a longitudinal analysis of the situation of LGBTI rights in Croatia and Slovenia considering that this survey was conducted there also in 2012. The comparison shows that LGBTI people in Croatia and Slovenia experienced violence at slightly lower rates in 2017 compared to 2012. The rates of reporting violence to police have increased in Croatia but decreased in Slovenia. Discrimination is generally as prevalent in Croatia and Slovenia as it was in 2012. Reporting discrimination is slightly higher in 2017 than in 2012. Levels of discrimination have improved for Croatia in education and the workplace and increased slightly in health care and worsened for Slovenia in all three areas. Jokes against LGBT people remain common but with a decrease in Slovenia, while the occurrence of offensive language by politicians has improved. What is of concern is that visibility of LGBT people remains low and has decreased in some areas.
Additionally, there is an increasing evidence, that links exclusion with detrimental health, education and employment outcomes for LGBT people, aggregating to broader impacts on the overall economy. Social inclusion of LGBTI people is therefore important in and of itself, but also because it is the smart thing to do. The data contained in the report provides a sobering view of the challenges experienced by LGBTI people in Southeastern Europe. Addressing these challenges will not only ensure that all people’s rights are protected, respected and fulfilled, but will bring benefits to the societies, economies, and region at-large.
Among the most important recommendations of this reports are to:
- Increase and expand the evidence base: researchers, advocates and policymakers should delve further into the available data to inform interventions in each country.
- The LGBTI data gap remains large, and further research and data collection is necessary to better understand the lived experience of LGBTI people and the challenges they face.
- Work on awareness raising needs to continue: Sensitization and capacity building programs for public servants should be expanded and strengthened. More needs to be done to increase the rights awareness of LGBTI people. The capacities of LGBTI organizations across the region should be strengthened.
- A lot more work needs to be done to close the implementation gap: Governments should use the survey findings to identify implementation gaps related to the EU accession process, especially for Chapter 23: judiciary and fundamental rights and chapter 24: justice, freedom and security.
- Governments should improve the criminal justice response to violence against LGBTI people;
- Safe spaces should be created for LGBTI persons where they can receive services and support;
ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for the Western Balkans and Turkey wishes to thank all LGBTI organizations that contributed with their inputs on the revision and preparation of the survey as well as its dissemination by helping to reach out large numbers of our community.
ERA’s Executive Co-Director, on the occasion of the publication of this report stated that “this report reveals in detail what LGBTI activists have been talking about for years now. It is now time for state institutions not to hide behind empty words, but to take serious note of the struggles of LGBTI persons and the concrete steps that each institution should take to significantly improve the lives of our community in this region”.
To read full report CLICK HERE.