Berliner Boersenzeitung - French LGBTQ groups 'extremely concerned' over increase in attacks

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French LGBTQ groups 'extremely concerned' over increase in attacks
French LGBTQ groups 'extremely concerned' over increase in attacks / Photo: JULIEN DE ROSA - AFP

French LGBTQ groups 'extremely concerned' over increase in attacks

France saw a sharp rise in anti-LGBTQ incidents in 2023, according to a report published by the French interior ministry on Thursday, an increase activists warn marks a worrying trend in the country.

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The report –- released on the eve of the World Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia -- documents a 13 percent jump in anti-LGBTQ offences from 2022.

More serious crimes including assaults, threats, and harassment saw a 19 percent increase, with 2,870 instances recorded by French authorities.

"It feels like the embers of LGBTI-phobia have been lit, and now the fire is ready to take hold," said president of French activist group SOS Homophobie Julia Torlet.

"What worries us most are the emerging trends...we are extremely concerned," Torlet added, saying "if the government doesn't act" France risks backsliding into the violence seen in 2013 over the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

The number of anti-LGBTQ incidents has risen sharply -- about 17 percent on average each year for crimes and misdemeanours –- since 2016, according to the interior ministry.

But these figures only paint part of the picture.

Men account for the majority of both victims and perpetrators in anti-LGBTQ incidents, accounting for 70 and 82 percent, respectively.

Moreover, the perpetrators are predominately young, with nearly half of all accused under 30 and more than a third under 19, says the report.

- 'Past the worry stage'-

While the report says victims are now "better received" by authorities, only 20 percent of those subjected to threats or violence and five percent of victims of verbal abuse file a complaint.

"We're past the worry stage," spokesman for Stop Homophobie Maxime Haes told AFP.

Anti-LGBTQ acts are linked to the "drastic increase in LGBT-phobic discourse," said Haes, which he says are fuelled by "the rise of the far right and religious extremism".

The owner of a bar in Nantes, a city in western France, told regional newspaper Ouest-France it cancelled an LGBTQ-friendly event in early May over safety concerns after a poster featuring individuals in religious habits sparked an "outpouring of hate" online.

And in France, 60 percent of people avoid holding hands with same-sex partners for fear of being assaulted, according to a 2024 report from the European Agency for Fundamental Rights.

The country has also seen a spike in transphobic discourse, Haes said.

SOS Homophobie has denounced what it calls "abysmal government silence" and criticised the lack of "ambitious policy" on LGBTQ issues even after the appointment of openly gay Prime Minister Gabriel Attal earlier this year.

"Hate speech is not being combatted at all by politicians," Haes of Stop Homophobie added.

(G.Gruner--BBZ)