COC Netherlands is of the opinion that local authorities, the police, housing associations and other relevant organizations should step up their efforts to create safe neighbourhoods for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT). The COC is responding to research by Statistic Netherlands (CBS) that was published in November.
The CBS survey shows that LGBTs feel less safe, experience more trouble, and have a more negative view on the social cohesion in their neighbourhood. Nearly one in ten lesbians indicated that loitering youth and local residents were bothering them. This is almost double that of heterosexual women. Of homosexuals, 22% indicated in 2013 that they sometimes felt unsafe in their own neighbourhood, against 14% of straight men.
Residential Enjoyment Ruined
COC President Tanja Ineke: "Fear and feelings of insecurity in your own street or neighbourhood can completely ruin residential enjoyment. Municipalities, the police, the Public Prosecutor, housing associations, neighbourhood mediation, anti-discriminatory agencies, and other safety partners should take a hard line against harassment."
According to Tanja Ineke, too much is going wrong in the cooperation between security partners. "Stones are left unturned, creating a situation in which the harassment LGBTs are confronted with is insufficiently dealt with, or not dealt with at all.
Tanja Ineke gives an example of convicted offenders that are allowed to continue living next door to victims. The Mayor and other authorities only come into action after the problem has escalated, and the police often do not pay attention to the discriminatory aspect of harassment, making it impossible for the Public Prosecutor to institute proceedings.
Tanja Ineke also advocates a rapid national implementation of Pink in Blue, police teams that specifically focus on addressing anti-LGBT violence. Such implementation has been promised earlier by Minister Ivo Opstelten of Security & Justice. The COC also wants higher maximum penalties for violence with a discriminatory background.
The COC president calls on LGBTs to always report to the police when they are the victim of violence, bullying, abuse or other forms of nuisance. "Because they can only tackle the problem if you report these things to the police," Tanja Ineke says.
Commissioned by the gay-straight alliance Natuurlijk Samen, which dedicates itself to safe neighbourhoods, and in which the COC is a partner, a report with recommendations for a better approach to incidents concerning LGBTs in their residential environment was published in June 2014. Proper cooperation and the ability to respond quickly are key in this report.
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COC Wants Better Cooperation for Safe Neighbourhoods for LGBTs