Belgium's State Secretary for Equal Opportunities Marie-Colline Leroy launched on Friday a call for projects – titled "À nous les droits" –aiming to increase the visibility of LGBTQ people and their rights, and to contribute to a safer public space.
Each project can receive from €5,000 to €30,000 in financing.
“Through the call for projects launched this Friday for associations and collectives, we want to contribute to a safer and more welcoming public space for LGBTQ people,” Leroy said.
In Europe, Belgium is a pioneer in terms of LGBTQ rights and equal rights legislation: in this year's 'Rainbow Map and Index' from ILGA-Europe, had the second-highest score for progressive LGBTQ laws. However, this legislation contrasts with the reality that LGBTQ people experience on a daily basis.
A clear, strong and lasting message
A study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, for example, reveals that in Belgium, 66% of the LGBTQ respondents avoid holding hands and 37% avoid certain places for fear of being attacked.
In 2022, the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities, Unia, closed 137 cases related to sexual orientation, 57 of which relate to hate speech. Unia also deals with cases of hate speech against LGBTQ people on the basis of their (alleged) sexual orientation. Of the 54 cases closed in 2022, almost half (44%) concern physical violence – the highest percentage in the past five years.
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In this context, the “À nous les droits” call for projects aims to give more visibility to the LGBTQ community in public spaces, by allowing associations, collectives, activists and artists to lift the taboos concerning the rights and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ people or to contribute to the fight against violence towards this community.
“As discrimination manifests itself strongly in the public space, we can also use this as an instrument or context to fight it,” Leroy said. “Current events remind us of the importance of delivering a clear, strong and lasting message to affirm the rights of LGBTQ people, the right to love each other without fear or discrimination in our society.”