Current surveys on protection of minorities in Europe

By Nadja Grintzewitsch

Approximately every second LGBT person in the European Union was a victim of discrimination in both 2011 and 2012. LGBT persons identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender / transsexual. Very few of those affected by discrimination reported these incidents to the police, believing this would have no effect and even fearing homophobic or transphobic assaults by police.

This is the result of an EU-wide online survey carried out from April 2 to July 15, 2012, by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, also known as the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). In total, 93,079 LGBT persons took part in the study, which was prompted by a query from the European Commission.

Depending on the country of origin, 30% (Netherlands) to 61% (Lithuania) of the LGBT persons surveyed were victims of discrimination in the 12 months preceding the study. With 46%, Germany scored only slightly below the EU average of 47%. The study also found that the number of trans persons who fell victim to physical assault was above average.

Online publications of the Fundamental Rights Agency

The Fundamental Rights Agency was founded in 2007 and has conducted several surveys in recent years that cast a spotlight on the situation of so-called minorities in the European Union. They included studies on the situation of Roma, violence against women and hate crimes against Jews. The FRA also offers educational materials concerning human rights, for example on the legal situation of refugees at Europe’s southern sea borders and on the legal capacity of persons with intellectual disabilities.

Resources for drafting laws at the EU level

While the statistical surveys do not always include all endonyms (e.g. intersexuals and Yenish people are missing) or sometimes contain debatable terms, they do provide relatively reliable sources to policy makers, e.g. for rethinking anti-discrimination legislation. Though the FRA itself cannot draft laws, it can provide concrete recommendations based on studies it conducts. These are included in its publications. There are no independent studies on the influence that FRA surveys and recommendations actually have on EU policy makers. However, it stands to reason that the influence is considerable.

The FRA’s studies are available in many languages, always including English. In addition, the so-called factsheet provides a two- to four-page summary of the results in the most commonly spoken European languages. The FRA’s publications can be sorted by language, publication year, theme (e.g. rights of the child), type (e.g. factsheet, handbook) or the fundamental rights covered (equality, freedoms, dignity). The publications are also interlinked, so that further relevant search results are displayed when a certain study is retrieved.

Areas of application

Knowing about the publications of the Fundamental Rights Agency may be important for knowledge multipliers in the field of education with respect to various working methods. The publications provide sound background information in diverse areas that lend themselves to discussions in youth groups. Terms and abbreviations that are not immediately obvious to everyone are clarified and defined in the publications. Another advantage lies in the statistics and study results on the situation and legal status of certain so-called minorities within the EU, which are usually up to date. In some cases there is even a short (English-language) video that provides information on the initiation and implementation of the study or summarizes the most important results using diagrams. Young people inside or outside school who want to or are supposed to conduct research on the subject areas mentioned above will certainly find answers on the FRA’s site. Teachers and others who take an interest are also well advised to browse the most recent publications on a regular basis.


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