Last year, there were 167 reports of discrimination based on sexual orientation, the Interfederal centre for Equal Opportunities revealed on Wednesday. This does not include the non-reported homophobic acts. Despite such discrimination already being illegal and punishable by law, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community (LGBT) wants the fight against discrimination to be stepped up. The reports the centre received in 2014 led to 80 prosecutions. That’s an overall fall, but “unfortunately cannot be seen as progress, as the centre receives reports of crimes and other violent acts more regularly”.
A large number of homosexuals don’t reports acts of discrimination, harassment or violence. The centre is working to break this trend of “under-reporting”, and encourages victims to report what they suffered, as it is non-committal, free and confidential.
A 2012 investigation by the European Human Rights Agency found that one in three members of the LGBT community in Belgium had been threatened or attacked due to their sexual orientation. More than 60% of homosexuals in Belgium didn’t even dare hold hands in public, for fear of being harassed.
The fight against discrimination is the main issue publicised by Gay Pride, Pride.be, which will take place in Brussels on the 16th of May. “Homophobia always finds a way to express itself in a constant and banal way: in the media, in schools, in the medical or judicial world, in the work place or in police forces”, says The Belgian Pride association, which is organising the march. “LGBT people who have been the victim of discrimination or violence rarely report it, through fear or shame. They also lack confidence in the efficiency of the judicial system”. The Belgian Pride wants the government to bring back the Interfederal plan against homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia, which ended in December 2014. The International Day against Homophobia is celebrated on the 17th of May.