Calls to make homophobia complaints anonymous to fight underreporting
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Calls to make homophobia complaints anonymous to fight underreporting

Anonymous reporting could help bring down the "high degree of underreporting with regard to homophobic violence." © Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga

Victims of homophobic violence should be allowed to file a complaint anonymously via an app or website in order to encourage more people to report such incidents, a Ghent city councillor said.

The red tape surrounding the filing of a police complaint means that victims of homophobia or LGBTQ-related hate crimes are still hesitant to speak out, according to councillor Stephanie D’Hose.

Despite efforts made to encourage more people to come forward, there is still a “high degree of underreporting with regard to homophobic violence,” D’Hose said, citing figures which show a slight decline in reporting from 2017 and 2018.

D’Hose said that the figures showed that the threshold past which the victim of a homophobic incident would choose to report it to the police was still high.

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Between 2017 and 2018, the number of reports of homophobic violence dropped from 187 to 172 across Belgium, with Brussels being the only region in which the number of reports went up slightly, from 38 in 2017 to 45 in 2018.

In both Flanders and Wallonia, the number of reports fell, with the steepest decline registered in the Francophone region, where police received 66 complaints in 2018, down from 84 the previous year.

Giving victims of homophobia the opportunity to make anonymous reports would convince more to speak up and give police “the opportunity to act,” D’Hose said.

Creating a dedicated app or website would also help authorities “get a more realistic picture of homophobic violence” and map it out throughout the country, she told HLN.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times