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Fighting discrimination How homophobia manifests itself in everyday Swiss life

Adding discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the Criminal Code's "anti-racism norm" would be a victory for LGBTIQ rights activists.

(Keystone)

Switzerland may soon be able to penalise discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a problem that in 2018 remains all-too-common for members of the LGBTIQ community.

This week the House of Representatives in Bern voted in favour of including homophobia in an article of the Criminal Code, known as the “anti-racism norm”. The move, which must still be approved by the Senate, would allow authorities to more effectively combat homophobic attacks and statements, like these five recent cases.

A “tax” on homosexuality

The far-right Swiss Nationalist Party PNOS (Partei National Orientierter Schweizer), which operates in German-speaking Switzerland, has proposed introducing a “tax” to forbid homosexuality in public places and to encourage gays and lesbians to “seek treatment”. In a text published last month, party strategist Florian Signer stated that homosexuality “has degenerated into a quasi-religion” that was spreading. He is also convinced that Europe is suffering from “a demographic decline” and “homosexuals represent an additional risk”.

“Homosexuality is a symptom like hay fever”

The Geneva cantonal authorities this summer launched an investigation after a doctor and homeopath said he could treat homosexuality. “Homosexuality is a symptom like any other, like headaches or hay fever, etc.” the general practitioner told Swiss public television RTS. “I don’t really understand what the problem is.”

A bishop makes the link between homosexuality and clerical sexual abuse

In an interview on the Catholic Television Network EWTN last month, Swiss Auxiliary Bishop Marian Eleganti of Chur said that “90%” of instances of sexual abuse committed by the American Catholic clergy “are directly linked to homosexual tendencies”.

Homophobic attacks in Neuchâtel

Two friends were beaten along the shore of Lake Neuchâtel last June, seemingly targeted for being gay. “We’re going to make you run, faggots!” the attackers allegedly told their victims. The young men, who suffered head injuries, loss of consciousness, broken teeth and bruises, denounced the attack on social media.

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The two victims posted photos of their injuries on Facebook following the attack.

Verbal abuse on a Geneva tram caught on video

In December 2017, an altercation between two men on a Geneva tram sparked a heated debate on social media after a video of the incident was posted on Facebook. “Get lost […] you wanted to hit on me […] I don’t fuck faggots,” one man shouted. His target was RTS reporter Jordan Davis, who filmed the outburst on his smartphone. Fellow passengers came to Davis’ aide by restraining his aggressor and urging him to step off the tram.

LGBTIQ rights activists are now asking authorities to collect data on these types of incidents. A helplineexternal link introduced in 2017 receives at least two reports of homophobic or transphobic attacks per week. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, as many more cases go unreported.

Adapted from French by Geraldine Wong Sak Hoi, swissinfo.ch

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