SUR

Attacks against the LGBT community increased by more than 20 per cent in 2020

The Andalusian Observatory against LGBTphobia laments that scarcely six in every ten alleged attacks are reported to the police

IVAN GELIBTER

The number of attacks against members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) community rose by more than 20 per cent over the last year and is the highest since the establishment of the Andalusian Observatory against LGBTphobia in 2017.

These figures - which encompass acts of violence and refusal of admission of entry, among other forms of aggression - reveal not only that the road ahead for this community is long, but also that the risk of a regression in rights is already a «reality».

The Observatory presented the report for 2020 on 1 July, but SUR has been able to learn that the total number of anti-LGBT attacks registered in that year was 419, compared with 349 in 2019 - an increase of more 20 per cent in scarcely a year.

However, this is not the only statistic that concerns Antonio Ferre, President of Andalucía Diversity, as he laments that barely six in every ten alleged attacks get reported to the police, which presents a «problem» when it comes to tracking down the perpetrators.

According to the study (to which SUR has had access), the main reasons so few alleged attacks are reported are a «lack of confidence in institutions», fear of reprisals and a loss of privacy. Other reasons include lack of knowledge of one's rights, not giving enough importance to these homophobic attacks, and even the fear of deportation if the victims are foreigners with an irregular administrative situation in Spain.

The typology of the attacks is very similar to last year's. Verbal aggression is the most recurrent, followed by hate speech, harassment and violence. The form most often testified against is related to abuses of the right of admission.

Once again, the principal victims are gay men through incidents related to homophobia. Experts have spent years emphasising that this order is related to the lack of formal complaints filed for LGBTphobic attacks, as the visibility of homosexual men is much greater than that of other persons in this community, and for that reason attacks against this demographic tend to be more common. In addition to this, lesbians and - above all - transgender people have more qualms when it comes to disclosing acts of aggression committed against them.

If the main victims are men, so are the primary culprits. Although the Observatory does not have the exact figures for this year, the report for 2019 found that almost seven in ten attacks are perpetrated by men, while around 15% are carried out by groups of people who mostly consist of men.

Ferre stressed in his declarations to SUR that the rise in aggression over social media is «exponential». In 2019, such attacks made up 29 per cent of all incidences, up from a previous nine per cent, making them the second most prevalent form after those that take place in the street.

Attacks over social media complicate the matter of detecting and tracking down the aggressors, as many of the insults, harassments and hate speeches originate from anonymous accounts; and when they come from real accounts, there are many victims who believe – falsely – that it is difficult for the police to deal with them. Despite being somewhat more optimistic regarding the moderation of social media, Ferre criticises that, most of the time, numerous complaints must be filed before a social network closes the accounts of such LGBTphobes.