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Vandals attack ILGA World office with anti-LGBTI and anti-Semitic graffiti

Vandals attack ILGA World office with anti-LGBTI and anti-Semitic graffiti

Staff and volunteers at the headquarters of one of the world’s most important LGBTI organizations have been left shaken after a second vandal attack.

For the second time in three months, vandals graffitied anti-LGBTI and anti-Semitic messages outside the ILGA World offices in Geneva, Switzerland.

ILGA World (the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) is a global federation of organizations committed to equal rights for LGBTI people.

ILGA World staff said they would continue their work | Photo: Supplied

The incidents took place just steps away from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. ILGA World has filed a complaint against the anti-Semitic inscriptions and for property damage.

‘The security of our people – staff and volunteers – is of paramount importance to ILGA World and we have taken extra security measures at the office. And we continue our work,’ André du Plessis, executive director at ILGA World told Gay Star News.

Du Plessis said ‘sadly these type of incidents are all-too common in the world’. But he promised it would not dampen their spirits.

‘LGBTI people everywhere face this – and much much worse – on a daily basis.

‘As Pride gets underway here in Geneva, and we all mark the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, we will celebrate our history and remember those who have paid the ultimate price on our long march to freedom.

‘We will not be intimidated into silence. Rather we stand proud and united, and march in solidarity for all those who cannot.’

Switzerland, ILGA World and LGBTI laws

ILGA World took the opportunity to remind people that LGBT-phobic violence and discrimination were not uncommon in Switzerland.

Youth are particularly exposed to violence: 50% of LGB persons under 25 reported being subjected to at least one form of homophobic violence in the last six months. While almost 9 in 10 trans students have been insulted and 55% have been physically bullied at school.

Anti-Semitic and homophobic vandalism outside the ILGA World offices | Photo: Supplied

Homophobic and transphobic comments are generally not illegal under the Swiss Penal Code. So, aggressions and incitement to hatred and violence that happened on these grounds can’t be recorded as such by police.

In December 2018, Switzerland proposed to include sexual orientation (but leaving out gender identity) as protected grounds against bias-motivated speech in Article 261bis of the Criminal Code.

A request for a referendum against this revision was filed a few weeks later. Swiss voters may soon have to decide on this.

‘We note once again the urgent need to supplement article 261 bis of the Swiss Penal Code in order to allow the condemnation of such hate statements: the existing gap does not currently allow us to file a complaint noting the homophobic and transphobic nature of the inscriptions,’ ILGA said in a statement.

‘We call on Swiss national parliamentarians to address this as an urgent matter, otherwise similar incidents will simply fall outside the law.’