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Sexual orientation Helpline set up for homophobic attacks

A poster from a previous awareness campaign. A third of gays, bisexuals or transgender people in Switzerland are estimated to have been threatened or attacked 

(Keystone)

Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people are being urged to report violent homophobic or transphobic attacks using an anonymous national website and helpline, the first in Switzerland.

No database exists in the country for attacks based on sexual orientation. For the political authorities and the police, if there is no data, it’s as though this violence does not exist, said the organisations behind the “LGBT+ Helpline Switzerlandexternal link” on Monday.

They estimated that over the past five years almost one in three gays, bisexuals or transgender people in Switzerland had been threatened or attacked at home or in public.

However, a lack of official data leads to the mistaken assumption that such violence does not occur. The helpline said the Galop Hate Crime Reportexternal link in Britain records around 39,000 homophobic or transphobic attacks in that country a year. Of those, only 4,000 are recorded officially.

The main reason homophobic attacks are not registered as such in Switzerland is because homophobia is not recognised by the Swiss criminal code, the LGBT+ Helpline said. This is set to change, however, after parliament adopted a motion on the matter.

The website is available in four languages and provides information and contact addresses. Victims can report incidents anonymously by email or by phone, with 30 LGBT volunteers ready to give advice 24 hours a day.

The website and helpline is also open to anyone with questions about their sexual orientation, in particular young people considering coming out. 

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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