This is a blog is related to my academic work in the International Academic Forum on SOGIESC Law but meant to serve anyone who wants to contribute to improve the protection of human rights worldwide. It is intended to keep interested readers informed about legal developments relating to sexual orientation, gender expression and identity and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).GIESC). Hopefully, it will make it easier to find correct legal information about the developments in all regions of the world and, in particular international law.
PHILIP LARKIN was only half-wrong. Sex didn’t begin in 1963, as the poet joked; for a hefty minority of Britons it was four years later—legally, at least—when Parliament nixed the law prohibiting gay sex. In this age of rainbow flags and pride parades, it is easy to forget how few lesbians and gays could be open about their sexuality until relatively recently. One who was, the journalist Peter Wildeblood, was “no more proud of my condition than I would be of having a glass eye or a hare lip”. Two years after decriminalisation in England and Wales, the Stonewall riots in New York popularised a term for this: coming out.
Since then, the closet has burst open. Actors and the characters they play are openly gay. Leo Varadkar, prime minister of Ireland until June, has a male partner; Serbia’s prime minister is a lesbian, as are the mayors of Chicago and Bogotá, the Colombian capital. Yet coming out remains a pivotal moment of self-recognition for gay teenagers. Thanks to the internet, they are finding the means and the confidence to do so in more places than ever before, and at a younger age than in previous generations (see article).
Yet there are plenty of places where being gay remains taboo. Even in liberal countries, gay members of some religious and ethnic minorities have a tough time. Gay sex is still illegal in 68 countries, and punishable by death in a dozen. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) folk are subject to extra-judicial violence in many places, from beatings in bars to the gang-rape of lesbians by men who imagine that this might, as they see it, “cure” their sinful orientation. It would be reckless to encourage people to come out where to do so is to court injury or death. In all but the most repressive places, though, people are opening up. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, a lobby group, has members in 164 countries. Pride parades march in China, Paraguay and the Faroe Islands.
Urbanisation helps. In big cities, every tribe has its place. You can play bingo with drag queens in Moscow, dance in gay bars in Nairobi (where gay sex is still illegal) and use gay hook-up apps in Beijing (where until 1997 gay people were jailed for “hooliganism”). Even in remote places, smartphones help teenagers discover that they are not alone. And that knowledge gives more of them the courage to come out. In 1985 barely a fifth of Americans had an openly gay relative, friend or colleague. Now 87% say they know someone gay or lesbian.
LGBT people coming out brings the extra advantage of spreading tolerance. Not always, of course. But sceptics and bigots are likeliest to change their minds when they realise that someone they know is gay. Familiarity reveals that homosexuals are just as human—and humdrum—as heterosexuals. It is easy to demonise the imaginary gay people depicted in a brimstone sermon; but much harder to fear the lesbian actuaries next door, or the gay dads cheering their daughter’s softball team. Pride parades, with their loud floats and copious flesh, are lots of fun. But learning that a sober-suited colleague happens to be gay is more likely to win over a conservative. One of the founders of Stonewall, a British gay-rights charity, said the name initially helped secure meetings with government ministers. To gays, it meant a riot; to the uninformed, it sounded like a firm of architects.
In 2002 about half of Americans said they tolerated homosexuality; now nearly three-quarters do. One study found that support for same-sex marriage increased rapidly in 2006-10 among Americans with a gay or lesbian friend, but fell among those with none. Even in countries where a majority remains hostile, change is coming. The proportion of Indians who said that gay people should be accepted rose from 15% in 2013 to 37% last year. Though an attempt to overturn Kenya’s gay-sex ban failed last year, the publicity it generated persuaded more locals to come out. That helps explain why over the same period the share of Kenyans who tolerate homosexuality nearly doubled, to 14%. In most places the young are more gay-friendly than the old, so discrimination will surely dwindle as the prejudiced pass away.
From Iran to Uganda, autocrats often caricature homosexuality as a foreign vice. Some even claim that there are no gay people in their country. In such places the most effective campaigners are, therefore, local gay people. The best thing liberals elsewhere can do is to provide financial and legal support to gay-rights groups and grant asylum to those who flee persecution.
Got to let it show
Mr Wildeblood’s motivation for writing a book in 1955 in which he baldly stated “I am a homosexual” was, he said, “to turn on more lights, revealing, in place of the blurred and shadowy figure of the newspaper photographs, a man differing from other men only in one respect.” The rest of those lights are coming on, one by one. ■
Sexuality is an integral part of human life. Children and young people have the right to receive reliable, science-based and comprehensive information about it. Yet, sexuality education in schools is a sensitive issue. Ever since it was first introduced in European school curricula in the 1970’s, parents, religious leaders and politicians have been arguing, often in highly polarised debates, about how much, and what should be taught at what age.
Many Council of Europe member states have made considerable progress over the last decades towards delivering such education and improving its content so that it goes beyond biology and reproduction and truly equips children with knowledge about their bodies and their rights, and informs them about gender equality, sexual orientation, gender identity and healthy relationships (an approach often referred to as comprehensive sexuality education).
A renewed resistance to sexuality education
Despite overwhelming evidence that comprehensive sexuality education benefits children and society as a whole, we currently face renewed opposition to the provision of mandatory sexuality education in schools. Such resistance is often an illustration of a broader opposition to the full realisation of the human rights of specific groups, in particular women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons and, to some extent, children themselves, on grounds that it would threaten traditional and religious values.
In 2019, a draft bill labelled “Stop Paedophilia” was put forward in the Polish Parliament by a group of citizens. It envisages the introduction of harsh penalties – including possible imprisonment – for anyone acting in the educational context or on school premises who “propagates or approves the undertaking by a minor of sexual intercourse or any other sexual act”. I expressed serious concern that the bill may be used to effectively criminalise the provision of sexuality education to school children. Most recently, the President of Poland, running for a second term, made it a campaign pledge to essentially forbid schools from teaching LGBT issues in sexuality education classes. Last year, in Birmingham (UK), religious communities and parents organised protests in front of schools that were providing information about same-sex relationships and transgender issues to their pupils. The recent adoption, in June 2020, by the Romanian Parliament of a bill repealing the mandatory provision of comprehensive sexuality education in school curricula is yet another example of this renewed opposition to the right of children to sexuality education. This move came after the adoption, in early 2020, of legislation introducing such mandatory sexuality education in schools, a development which was labelled by religious organisations as “an attack against the innocence of children.”
In Italy, as noted by the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), which monitors the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention), the government’s initiative in 2015 to prepare “National Guidelines for Education to Affectivity, Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Schools” was stopped due to growing resistance to education on sexuality and the stigmatisation, often channelled through disinformation campaigns on the content of such education, of those partaking in it. In the Spanish autonomous region of Murcia, it is now possible for parents to request that their children opt out from certain classes provided by external educators, should the parents consider that the subject or the providers are not in line with their views on certain issues. This could have a negative impact on these children’s access to sexuality and relationships education, as this subject, as well as other human rights education-related content, is often provided by external actors, within the context of the ordinary curriculum.
Dispelling the myths about comprehensive sexuality education
Campaigns have multiplied across the continent, disseminating distorted or misleading information about existing sexuality education curricula. They have presented sexuality education as sexualising children at an early age, “propaganda in favour of homosexuality”, spreading “gender ideology”, and depriving parents of their right to educate their children in accordance with their values and beliefs. Disinformation about the actual contents of the curriculum is deliberately spread to scare parents.
It is time to set the record straight. UNESCO has spelled out the aims of sexuality education as “teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality. It aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to: realize their health, well-being and dignity; develop respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own well-being and that of others; and understand and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives.”
Contrary to what opponents claim, research carried out at national and international level has demonstrated the benefits of comprehensive sexuality education, including: delayed sexual initiation; reduced risk-taking; increased use of contraception; and improved attitudes related to sexual and reproductive health.
Sexuality education in schools is today all the more necessary as children in most cases can – and do — obtain information otherwise, in particular through the Internet and social media. While these can be useful and appropriate sources of information, they can also convey a distorted image of sexuality and lack information on emotional and rights-related aspects of sexuality. Through websites or social media children can also access scientifically inaccurate information, for example as regards contraception.
It is worth emphasising that sexuality education in schools comes as a complement to and not a replacement of what may be shared by parents at home. However, it cannot be left entirely to families. In what other field of science would we relinquish the education of our children to the Internet or families exclusively?
Comprehensive sexuality education is a powerful tool to combat violence, abuse and discrimination and to promote respect for diversity
The benefits of sexuality education, when comprehensive, go far beyond information on reproduction and health risks associated with sexuality.
Sexuality education is essential to prevent and combat sexual abuse against children, sexual violence and sexual exploitation. The Council of Europe Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (“the Lanzarote Convention”) requires from states that they “ensure that children, during primary and secondary education, receive information on the risks of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, as well as on the means to protect themselves, adapted to their evolving capacity.” The Lanzarote Committee, in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Convention, stressed for example that the school environment was particularly appropriate to inform about the widespread problem of sexual abuse against children within the family framework or in their “circle of trust”.
The importance of sexuality education to prevent children from falling prey to sexual offenders online was highlighted during the period of confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As stressed by the Lanzarote Committee, during this period, children became increasingly vulnerable to online grooming, sexual extorsion, cyber-bullying or other sexual exploitation facilitated by information and communication technologies. The Committee urged states to step up information on risks and on children’s rights online, as well as counselling and support services. In this context, I note with interest that in some countries, such as Estonia, sexuality education continued to be provided as part of online schooling.
Likewise, sexuality education is crucial to prevent gender-based violence and discrimination against women. It should therefore contribute to conveying, from the early stages of education, strong messages in favour of equality between women and men, promoting non-stereotyped gender roles, educating about mutual respect, consent to sexual relations, non-violent conflict resolution in interpersonal relationships and respect for personal integrity, as requested by the Istanbul Convention.
It is also an ideal context for raising awareness about the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, including access to modern contraception and safe abortion. Research carried out in the European region under the auspices of the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that the teenage birth rate tends to be much higher in countries, such as Bulgaria and Georgia, where no mandatory comprehensive sexuality education programmes are in place. Early pregnancy is not only potentially very damaging for the health of teenage girls, but it also results in serious limitations to their educational opportunities.
Existing sexuality education curricula often tend to completely exclude LGBTI people and issues, or even to stigmatise them. Yet, LGBTI youth frequently face bullying at school and are at higher risk of committing self-harm or suicide because of societal rejection of their sexual orientation. Like all other children, they should be provided with comprehensive sexuality education that meets their needs. Therefore, sexuality education must include information that is relevant to them, scientifically accurate and age appropriate. This means helping children to understand sexual orientation and gender identity and dispelling common myths and stereotypes about LGBTI persons.
By providing factual, non-stigmatising information on sexual orientation and gender identity as one aspect of human development, comprehensive sexuality education can help save lives. It can contribute to combating homophobia and transphobia, at school and beyond, and to creating a safer and more inclusive learning environment for all.
Children and young people have the right to receive comprehensive sexuality education
International human rights bodies have established that children and young people have the right to receive comprehensive, accurate, scientifically sound and culturally sensitive sexuality education, based on existing international standards. These include the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Violence against Women, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and, at European level, the European Social Charter and the above-mentioned Lanzarote and Istanbul Conventions.
The right to receive comprehensive sexuality education derives from a range of protected rights, such as the right to live free from violence and discrimination, the right to the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health, but also the right to receive and impart information and the right to quality and inclusive education, including human rights education. In a 2010 report on sexuality education, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education stressed that “sexual education should be considered a right in itself and should be clearly linked with other rights in accordance with the principle of the interdependence and indivisibility of human rights.” The need for sexuality education is also acknowledged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations and is necessary to achieve several of the goals included in the agenda.
Key steps to improve the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education
Comprehensive sexuality education is part of a good quality education. Thus, it should be provided for by law, be mandatory and mainstreamed across the education system as of the early school years. It is of concern that, according to a 2018 survey, sexuality education was mandatory in only 11 out of the 22 Council of Europe member states reviewed.
Opponents to sexuality education often advocate for a right of parents to opt out on behalf of their children from mandatory sexuality education. However, international human rights standards on the right to freedom of religion or belief do not entitle parents to withdraw children from sexuality education classes where relevant information is conveyed in an objective and impartial manner, as also stressed in an Issue Paper on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights published by my Office in 2017. Therefore, I was pleased to learn that in January 2020, the government of Wales removed the possibility for parents to prevent their children from attending classes as part of the curriculum on inclusive sexuality and relationships.
The curricula and teaching methods should be adapted to the different stages of development of children and take into account their evolving capacity. The 2018 UNESCO International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education covers a range of age groups, from 5 to 8 years old up to 15-18+ years old. As highlighted in UNESCO’s Technical Guidance, it is essential for children to learn about sexuality and safer sex behaviours before they become sexually active, in order to be adequately prepared for healthy and consensual relationships. UNESCO also recommends using participatory and learner-centred approaches that allow children to develop critical thinking.
Information provided to children as part of sexuality education should be relevant and based on science and human rights standards. Sexuality education should not include value judgments or perpetuate prejudices and stereotypes. The European Committee on Social Rights stressed that “sexual and reproductive health education must be provided to school children without discrimination on any ground” and that it should not be used “as a tool for reinforcing demeaning stereotypes and perpetuating forms of prejudice which contribute to the social exclusion of historically marginalised groups and others that face embedded discrimination and other forms of social disadvantage which has the effect of denying their human dignity.” Curricula on sexuality education should also be regularly evaluated and revised, in order to ensure that they are accurate and meet existing needs.
It is essential to provide families with accurate information about what sexuality education really entails -and what it does not- and to explain the benefits for all, not only children. Clearly, if sexuality education is to be accepted and successfully implemented, it should take into account the communities’ and parents’ cultural and religious backgrounds. Therefore, schools should be supported to engage with them, including as appropriate with religious leaders, and to take their views into account as long as they do not contradict the very aims of sexuality education, the best interests of the child, or human rights standards.
It is important to consult and involve young people themselves, first and foremost, to ensure that the content of education that is provided to them is relevant and adapted to their needs. Peer learning can play an important role. For example, the Ukrainian Ministry of Education decided at the end of 2019 to introduce peer education training programmes on sexuality education and HIV prevention in schools, to be delivered by an international youth organisation.
Comprehensive sexuality education should also be provided to out-of-school children and youth. This is particularly relevant for children and young people with disabilities, many of whom, unfortunately, do not yet have access to mainstream education. Their sexuality tends to be ignored, or even perceived as harmful, and they are therefore often deprived of any access to adequate information on sexuality and relationships, despite their heightened vulnerability to sexual abuse and exploitation. Online sexuality education can be a useful tool for out-of-school children, provided they have access to safe and inclusive digital spaces.
Lastly, it is of crucial importance for teachers to receive adequate specialised training and support for teaching comprehensive sexuality education, irrespective of whether part of the teaching is also carried out by external actors. Integrating training on sexuality education in regular teacher training programmes, as has been done in Estonia and Finland, is an effective way of ensuring that all teachers are adequately prepared. The delivery of sexuality education by schools should also be closely and regularly monitored and evaluated.
With challenges and resistance to sexuality education increasing, what is most needed is strong political leadership to remind society that access to comprehensive sexuality education is a human right and that it is for the benefit of all. Sexuality education is about knowing one’s rights and respecting other people’s rights, about protecting one’s health, and about adopting a positive attitude towards sexuality and relationships. It is also about acquiring valuable life skills, such as self-confidence, critical thinking and the capacity to make informed decisions. There is obviously nothing wrong with this.
Commissioner for Human Rights, Issue Paper on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe (2017)
Committee of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (Lanzarote Committee), 2nd implementation report, Protection of children against sexual abuse in the circle of trust, 31 January 2018
USA: Colorado becomes eleventh US state to ban LGBTQ ‘panic defense’
Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill on Monday July, 13 banning the so-called “panic defense” in court, meaning that defendants can no longer blame victims’ sexual orientation or gender identity for their violent actions.
Colorado will become the eleventh US state to ban the defense, following states such as Rhode Island, New Jersey, California and New York. The bill, signed by the first openly gay elected governor, will add further protections for the LGBTQ community. Previously, the “panic defense” has been used to excuse the violent actions of defendants as temporary insanity as a result of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Polis stated that the SB20-221 bill will ensure that in cases of violence or murder trials, there is no discriminatory bias, encouraging a fairer trial. The bill was supported by 22 other elected district attorneys and was signed along with other legislation strengthening protections for the LGBTQ community, including coverage for HIV/AIDS prevention medication.
Millions of LGBT people could gain additional non-discrimination protections if courts interpret state laws consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County. Our new study analyzed state sex non-discrimination laws in states without statutes that expressly bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also estimated the number of LGBT people in each state who stand to gain protections under these laws.
The tweet features a video of Mohamad al-Bokari responding on social media to whether he supported equal rights. He says: “Everyone has rights and should be able to practice them freely, including gay people.”
Al-Bokari was arrested and detained for 6 weeks leading up to the trial. The court sentenced him on July 20 to 10 months imprisonment for “violating public morality” and “imitating women.” The decision seems also to be based on ongoing pre-conceptions from authorities as to al-Bokari’s sexual orientation, which had originally forced him to flee from Yemen to Saudi Arabia due to threats on his life by armed groups in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has an uncodified legal system that contains no express laws on gender identity or discriminating according to sexual orientation, but judges have often issued convictions for “immorality,” for instance homosexual activity outside of marriage. Al-Bokari will have 30 days to appeal the case, or faces deportation following his sentences’ completion.
The judgment of the U.S Supreme Court in Bostock v Clayton Country, is a landmark decision in protecting members of the LGBTQ community from employment discrimination on the basis of their gender identity and sexual orientation. Nevertheless, there are hurdles in the implementation of this judgment, particularly in relation with the right to religious liberty and the right to association under the First Amendment to the U.S Constitution.
The petitioners in this case were fired due to their gender identity and sexual orientation and therefore sued their employers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 1964. The employers defended their decision by arguing that terminating the employment of a person because of their transgender status or sexuality is not discrimination based on a protected trait under Title VII, since the statute only mentions race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Justice Gorsuch, writing for the majority, reasoned that discrimination against a homosexual or transgender person is application of sex-based rules and therefore amounts to discriminatory action on the basis of sex. If a female employee is attracted to a man and a male employee is also attracted to a man, action against the latter but not against the former is an imposition on a sex-based rule that those assigned as male at birth must only be attracted towards a person of the opposite sex. Similarly, if a person is discriminated for not abiding by the norms associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth, that is a discrimination on the basis of sex.
The dissent rejected this notion by arguing that understanding of discrimination based on sex at the time of enactment of Title VII, only included discrimination against men or women, not sexual orientation or transgender status. The dissent refuses to accept any nexus between the sex of a person and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or having a same-sex relationship. Interestingly, on the question as to whether an employer who hires blacks and white persons but discriminates against an employee for having an interracial relationship, amounts to discrimination on the basis of race, Justice Alito in his dissent, answers in the affirmative. He distinguishes discrimination against an interracial couple from discrimination against those desiring or involved in a same-sex relationship, on the ground that racial discrimination is historically rooted in subjugating a particular race, unlike discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. However, in doing so, he does not take into account decades, if not centuries, of subjugation of sexual minorities throughout history and the enforcement of heterosexual norms through acts of societal discrimination as well as state discrimination especially through the criminalization and non-recognition of same-sex relations and other practices not confirming to heterosexual norms.
Even though the judgment provides protection to LGBTQ persons from employment discrimination, the ruling does have several challenges in its implementation. The prime one which is recognized by the majority and the dissent is the test of how this statutory right will interact vis-à-vis the right to freedom of religion. Title VII itself provides for an exemption to employment discrimination based on religious reasons by certain entities. 42 U.S.C §2000e–1(a) allows religious corporations, associations, educational institutions or societies, to hire individuals based on their religion. It is possible that certain religious organizations may insist on an interpretation of their religion which excludes people from the LGBTQ community, and it won’t be open to the Courts to rule on which interpretation of a religion is accurate, as it would fall foul of the doctrine of excessive entanglement with religion under the First Amendment.
Furthermore, Congress enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 1993 (RFRA) to prevent the state from substantially burdening the free exercise of religion of a person, except if the government can demonstrate that the state action is in furtherance of a compelling state interest and that the action is the least restrictive means of furthering such interest. Even though RFRA is not applicable at the state level, numerous states have adopted variations of RFRA as state statutes. In Burwell v Hobby Lobby, the U.S Supreme Court held that even religious corporations can claim RFRA rights. Therefore, one of the major test case for implementing Bostock would be whether a religious organization or corporation can cite RFRA rights and the exemption clause, to avoid a Title VII violation if they engage in employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In other words, is there a narrowly tailored compelling state interest to force a religious corporation or organization to employ someone in violation of their religious beliefs?
It is also important to recognize that there is an additional hurdle for Bostock, in relation to the right to association. There may be situations whereby a person is only eligible for an employment position within an organization or association, if such person is a member of the association. In NAACP v. Alabama, the U.S Supreme Court had recognized that forming associations on common principles, missions or goals, are themselves form of expression. Therefore, the First Amendment protects the right to ‘expressive association.’ However, if the one of the central tenants of an association is its condemnation of homosexuality, the question would arise to whether the ratio in Bostock can force such associations to ignore the sexual orientation of the employees or of prospective employees.
In Boy Scouts of America v Dale, the U.S Supreme Court recognized the action of the Boy Scouts leadership in removing an assistant scoutmaster for being gay, as an exercise of the right to expressive association under the First Amendment, because an association does not have to admit a person it does not desire, especially if the person’s presence adversely affects the association’s right to express a certain viewpoint. Even though the Scout Oath and Law did not expressly condemn homosexuality, the Court deferred to the interpretation of the Scout leaders that the mandate to be “morally straight” under their rules, is incompatible with homosexuality. In one sense, the judgment incentivizes organizations and associations to explicitly mention their discriminatory approaches and beliefs in their mission statement or policies, so as to come under the protection of the doctrine of expressive association.
Title VII read with Bostock provides a statutory right against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, whereas the right to expressive association is a constitutional right. The right to association is subject to restrictions which serve compelling state interests and which are narrowly tailored, however in Dale, the Court held that there is no compelling state interest to force an association to accept members, in derogation of their expressive message. Therefore, until Dale is overturned, associations which provide employment positions which are linked to membership and which have a mission statement or policy against employing members of the LGTBQ community, may be immune from the impact of Bostock.
Bostock is undoubtedly a major step forward for the LGBTQ community, however it is still a case of statutory interpretation and not a matter of constitutional adjudication, and therefore has certain limitations. The way it may interact with other statutory rights such as RFRA and the principles of the First Amendment will be an important flashpoint in the judicial handling of the ongoing culture war in society.
Staatsanwaltschaft Zürich-Limmat verurteilt 20-jährigen Serben per Strafbefehl für Attacke auf LGBT-Stand
Die Attacke dauert nur wenige Sekunden: An einem frühen Samstagnachmittag im Mai vergangenen Jahres stapfen beim Zürcher Lochergut vier junge Männer in Trainerhosen, Kapuzenjacken und Turnschuhen durch das hohe Gras am Rand der Strasse. Ihr Ziel: ein Informationsstand von LGBT-Aktivisten. Einer reisst eine Girlande weg und wirft den Tisch samt Flyern und Essen um, ein anderer kickt ein Tablett zu Boden und stiehlt eine Regenbogenfahne. Nur wenig später kehrt einer der Männer zurück, bedroht die Aktivisten erneut und packt einen von ihnen am Hals. Dann lässt er von ihm ab und macht sich aus dem Staub. Der Angriff hat hohe Wellen geschlagen, und er hinterliess offene Fragen: Schwulenfeindliche Übergriffe im angeblich so offenen Zürich? Wer macht so was, und das ausgerechnet am internationalen Tag gegen Homophobie?
Mehrere Vorfälle im 2019
Eine Antwort darauf gibt nun die Staatsanwaltschaft Zürich-Limmat. Sie hat einen 20-jährigen Serben wegen schwerer Drohung und Tätlichkeiten per Strafbefehl verurteilt. Der Mann hat nicht nur den Stand verwüstet, sondern wurde auch handgreiflich. Denn als ihn ein Standbetreuer ansprach, packte er diesen und forderte ihn auf, sich «zu verpissen» – sonst schlage er ihn zusammen. Der Serbe wurde mit einer bedingten Geldstrafe von 120 Tagessätzen zu je 30 Franken bestraft, wovon ein Tagessatz bereits durch Haft erstanden ist. Hinzu kommen Verfahrenskosten und eine Busse von insgesamt 1100 Franken.
Nebst der Staatsanwaltschaft wurde in dem Fall auch die Jugendanwaltschaft Zürich-Stadt aktiv. Sie eröffnete Strafuntersuchungen gegen zwei Minderjährige wegen geringfügiger Sachbeschädigung sowie geringfügigem Diebstahl. Eines dieser Verfahren wurde laut der Sprecherin Sarah Reimann mittlerweile eingestellt. Dem Jugendlichen habe eine Beteiligung am Angriff nicht nachgewiesen werden können. Die Untersuchung gegen den zweiten Beschuldigten ist noch hängig.
Der Angriff auf den LGBT-Stand war der Anfang von mehreren Attacken auf Homosexuelle in Zürich im letzten Jahr. Hier eine Chronologie:
Nach dem LGBT-Festival Zurich Pride wird ein homosexuelles Paar beim Lochergut von drei schwarz gekleideten Männern erst angepöbelt, dann verprügelt und verletzt.
: Fünf Männer pöbeln vor dem Queer-Klub «Heaven» im Niederdorf ein schwules Paar an und beleidigen es als «Schwuchteln» und «Missgeburten». Dann verprügeln sie die beiden.
: In der Silvesternacht sprechen drei Männer mit ausländischem Akzent im Niederdorf ein homosexuelles Paar an. Ob sie schwul seien, wollen sie wissen. Als einer der beiden bejaht, schüttet einer der Angreifer ihm erst einen Drink ins Gesicht, dann schlagen die Täter zu. Auch als die beiden am Boden liegen, prügeln die Männer weiter auf ihre Opfer ein.
: Vor dem Klub «Heaven» kommt es erneut zu einer homophoben Attacke. Jugendliche beschimpfen erst zwei junge Männer. Als ein Dritter schlichten will, wird er von mehreren Männern zusammengeschlagen. Immer wieder fällt das Wort «Schwuchtel». Zwei Sicherheitsmänner des Klubs wollen eingreifen. Darauf zückt einer der Angreifer ein Messer und verletzt einen Security-Mitarbeiter an der Schulter. Ein weiterer Mann erleidet eine Platzwunde am Kopf.
Nicht immer kann die Polizei die Angreifer ausmachen. Im Zusammenhang mit der Attacke in der Silvesternacht aber nahmen die Behörden vier Jugendliche im Alter zwischen 15 und 17 Jahren fest. Die Jugendanwaltschaft Unterland eröffnete darauf vier Strafuntersuchungen. Zwei dieser Verfahren konnten laut der Sprecherin Sarah Reimann bereits abgeschlossen werden. Ein Jugendlicher wurde wegen Raub und Angriff schuldig gesprochen, ein zweiter wegen Angriff und Beschimpfung verurteilt. Die Untersuchungen gegen die zwei weiteren Beschuldigten sind noch pendent.
Erfolgreich war auch die Fahndung gegen die Angreifer der Attacke vom Februar. Ein 15-jähriger Syrer konnte unmittelbar nach der Tat festgenommen werden. Die Untersuchungen wegen Angriff und einfacher Körperverletzung wurden derweil auf drei weitere Jugendliche ausgeweitet. Alle vier Strafverfahren sind laut Reimann noch hängig. Reimann ergänzt: «Ob und inwieweit das Motiv der einzelnen Personen homophob begründet war, ist ebenfalls Gegenstand der laufenden Strafuntersuchung.»
Die Vorfälle gaben auch politisch zu reden. Nach der Attacke im Zuge der Zurich Pride meldete sich unter anderem die homosexuelle Zürcher Stadtpräsidentin Corine Mauch (sp.) auf Facebook zu Wort. Solche Angriffe seien «absolut inakzeptabel». Sie zeigten, dass man punkto Gleichstellung noch nicht am Ziel angelangt sei. Auf die Angriffe reagierte die Stadt im Januar, und zwar mit mehr Polizeipräsenz rund um den Zähringerplatz.