In its annual report published on May 10, 2017, the organisation stated it received 1,575 testimonies of anti-LGBT acts in 2016, an increase of nearly 20 percent compared with the previous year.
It’s possible that the increase in reported incidents reflects a greater willingness of victims to speak out. Still, SOS Homophobie believes that many victims of anti-LGBT acts do not dare come forward.
In 2016, SOS Homophobie received 26 reports from people who said they had a homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic encounter with justice or law enforcement officials. This means that an officer refused to characterise an assault as homophobic in a complaint or to even file a complaint, or that law enforcement officers themselves discriminated against LGBT people.
While these incidents remain thankfully limited, they are no less unacceptable. France should take measures to determine how widespread these attitudes are among public officials, and then take action to prevent subversion of their duties because of this attitude.
SOS Homophobie’s report also shows a correlation between debates over equal rights and the increase of anti-LGBT acts. The organisation recorded a spike in reported incidents in 2013, the year France legalised same-sex marriage. In 2016, France adopted a law waiving the requirement for transgender people to provide proof of medical treatment to amend their legal gender. That same year saw a 76 percent spike in reported transphobic incidents.
While a majority of the French population is in favour of allowing same-sex couples to get married and adopt children, opponents of LGBT rights are a “vocal minority,” and are especially active on social media, where prosecution for homophobic statements remains difficult to carry out.
Several candidates for the 2017 presidential election expressed their intention to “rewrite the Taubira law” on same-sex marriage and adoption. One candidate even received the support of Sens Commun, an organisation openly opposed to the rights of LGBT people. When political figures take stands that are hostile to equal rights, they may “rekindle hate.”
It is high time to end discrimination against LGBT people and the French authorities have a key responsibility and role to turn this into a reality.
Written by Camille Marquis