IT ISN'T even out yet, but a European Union study into discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is already being rubbished by homophobic religious groups.
The EU's Agency for Fundamental Rights is to present the results of two years’ research next week, but according to this report religious outfits such as the US-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute have already criticised the survey, expressing regret that straight people couldn’t answer the questionnaire, and claiming the statistics are made up.
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup from the centre-right EPP group, commented:
I respect conservative Catholic groups’ freedom of opinion, including on women’s and LGBT rights – but I don’t appreciate their way of criticising research even before it is published. In any case, they receive very little attention, even from centre-right MEPs.
European Dignity Watch, a lobby group advocating for Catholic-inspired policies to limit access to abortion, stop stem-cell research and roll back LGBT people’s rights, also criticised the research as early as April last year.
The group, which some suspect is linked to US neo-conservatives, claims the survey “fabricates [...] facts” and argues its results are worthless because the research was anonymous.
Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, added:
I find it sad that these groups find any reason to criticise the work of the Fundamental Rights Agency whenever it promotes the rights of women or LGBT people. Their knee-jerk reflex shows that this survey is highly needed, and that unfortunately, equality still has a lot of opponents.
The survey received over 93,000 validated responses from LGBT people through a secured questionnaire. The data was processed and analysed by Gallup Europe.
Results will be presented in The Hague on Friday, May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia. The presentation will be attended by European Commissioner for fundamental rights Viviane Reding, several equality ministers, Members of the European Parliament, and civil society.
According to this report, in the run-up to France's recent legalisation of gay marriage, homophobic attacks, generated largely through the Catholic Church's hate-filled rhetoric, tripled.
One victim was Wilfred de Bruijn, who was beaten unconscious near his home in April in central Paris, sustaining five fractures in his head and face, abrasions and a lost tooth.
His boyfriend, who was also beaten up, said he witnessed three to four men shouting "Hey, look they're gays," before they attacked.
The incident shocked France, and garnered support far and wide as a gay "cause celebre." Interior Minister Manuel Valls called De Bruijn personally to express his shock.
"I certainly feel there's been an increase in homophobia," De Bruijn told The Associated Press at his apartment in Paris' working class 19th district, where the attack took place.