22 July, 2013

Building an Understanding of Hate Crime in Romania

No Comments
Category: European Action Day
Ruxandra Pandea
3 pm

There’s a huge lack of information that people in Romania have concerning their rights, writes Daniela Prisacariu, a volunteer and human rigths activist from Romania.

 

If you google ‘infracțiuni motivate de ură’ (the Romanian term for hate crime) you will only be able to find a few international reports, and some articles, but no real cases of hate crimes that have happened in Romania. One could easily say that hate crimes don’t exist in Romania. The same can be said that we don’t have any gay people here, a pretty common opinion.

 A report about the situation of hate crimes in the European Union done by the Fundamental Rights Agency has shown that Romania is the only country that has absolutely no data concerning hate crimes. Many might say: “You see? This country is a great country, so tolerant, with no hate crimes towards LGBT, roma, disabled people or people with religions beliefs other than the Christian Orthodox!”

Hate crime in Romania is an invisible issue. Few people know that this is a cruel reality for some people, and even fewer know that this issue is regulated by the new Penal Code. The Romanian law says that if somebody commits a crime for the reason that the victim is or is perceived to be of a certain ethnicity, sexual orientation or other minority the punishment will increase because this is considered an aggravated circumstance.

However, the reality has shown that the police officers have no idea about this law, the victims are afraid to say that they were beaten because they are gay and the authorities can make the situation even worse by laughing and mocking the victim when they do make a complaint.

LGBT people are often the target of hate crime. Only in the last year, two major events happened and were brought to the public attention by the mass-media: 6 people were beaten after an LGBT theatre play explicitly because they were part of the organising team, and later on, more than 50 people boycotted an LGBT movie screening being verbally aggressive, and singing religious songs and prayers.

These are just two examples that got the chance to be visible and raised awareness about the hate crime and hate speech that happen in Romania proving that this issue exists and should be taken into consideration by the authorities.

 

           The question that follows is: what is the actual number of hate crimes that happen in Romania?

ACCEPT Association

raporteaza

Report hate! The motivation behind crime matters! raporteaza.ro

In order to find out more about this issue, ACCEPT Association, have created a website that enables online users to anonymously report hate crimes that targeting victims and witnesses.

I remember that when we started working on the project, Raporteaza.ro, the website, I was telling a friend about it, and she said: “Oh, I also know two gay guys that were beaten because they were gay and they didn’t do anything about it.” That showed me that the hidden number of hate crimes might actually be higher than we suspected.

Since the website was launched, 172 people have reported incidents, but only 36 reports were complete, with people often confusing hate crime with hate speech or discrimination. This showed us the huge lack of information that people have concerning their rights.

Through the website we will be able to have a first image about the hate crime phenomenon and start understanding the specificity of hate crimes in Romania. Also, we will provide information about the differences between hate crimes and discrimination and what a victim can do in the two situations.

The website is not very well known by people and we are still looking for ways of informing more people about its existence. The website is open for everybody, not only LGBT. Hate crimes, no matter if they are committed because of ethnicity or sexual orientation, have a common factor: hate towards anything that doesn’t fit into the concept of normality.

The project goes beyond the website; what we’ve done so far is to build a partnership with an institution that is training police officers on different issues and soon we will deliver trainings about hate crimes to the police officers. On a regular basis we will present the data obtained from the anonymous reports to the authorities and lobby for the enforcement of the law and create awareness about this issue.

These are just small steps being done to understand hate crimes and we’re building a safer environment where people can understand what has happened to them and know how to react. The issue needs to be brought to the attention of the people: authorities, potential victims, aggressors but also to the general population.

We need to know more about what is happening to us and around us in order to actively change a system that fails to protect those who need it most.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*