May 29, 2021, Berlin-Neukölln, Sonnenallee: Two men who are recognizable as a couple meet a youth group in the evening. First, the men are insulted in a homophobic manner, then a youth bares his penis. “Then both men were attacked with blows to the head and injured,” said a statement from the Berlin police.

July 10, 2021, Berlin-Kreuzberg, in the subway: Two women holding hands are homophobically insulted by an aggressive man. As they leave the train, they are followed by the man. When a witness comes to the rescue of the lesbian couple, the attacker spits on them.

July 25, 2021, Berlin-Mitte: After Christopher Street Day, a rainbow flag is first snatched from a tourist’s hand, then he is kicked from behind and hit in the face with his fist. The victim has to be hospitalized with a triple fracture of the jaw.

These are just three examples from hundreds of homophobic and transphobic incidents that the anti-violence project Maneo registers every year. 527 cases were known to Maneo for 2021, including insults, coercion and threats as well as simple, dangerous and attempted physical harm. Mainly affected: gay and bisexual men.

The figures confirm the data from the Federal Criminal Police Office on politically motivated crime. According to this, 525 cases of hate crimes related to sexual or gender identity were recorded in Berlin last year.

Most cases were reported to Maneo from the districts of Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Mitte. Maneo manager Bastian Finke explains the dominance of these districts by the fact that many bars and meeting places of the gay subculture are established there, which means that LGBT people (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people) are more visible in the local area.

Finke describes the available data on the perpetrators as “very poor”, since only a fraction of the violent crimes are determined. He can only say that most of the perpetrators are young men.

Güner Balci, integration officer for the district of Neukölln, becomes more specific. “Especially in reactionary religious and right-wing milieus, rejection and hatred of same-sex lifestyles is always very pronounced,” she says. Again and again she hears from those affected that they leave Neukölln again because of violent incidents and above all everyday discrimination – the psychological and physical consequences are so profound. “For example, the many mosque communities in Neukölln have to play an important role as intermediaries if they are serious about promoting pluralistic coexistence.”

The Neukölln initiative “Dishonourable instead of defenseless”, founded by Islam-critical leftists, has been observing anti-gay violence in the capital since 2018. The group blames a “collectivist ideal of honor” for many of its actions.

The perpetrators legitimized their hatred by viewing their victims as “dirty” or “dishonorable.” The initiative complains of a “misunderstood tolerance” in dealing with this violence. According to the initiative, the “culture of honour” should not be kept silent even in a neighborhood that likes to present itself as open, colorful and tolerant.

The CDU parliamentary group leader in the Berlin House of Representatives, Kai Wegner, also says: “You don’t solve problems by hiding them. We have to clearly name groups of perpetrators in order to combat homophobia in a targeted manner.” A stronger police presence in the “colorful neighborhoods of the city” is necessary, especially at weekends. Mobile police stations could give the community more security after bullying, insults and acts of violence.

The socio-political spokeswoman for the AfD capital group, Jeannette Auricht, says: “Anyone who, for example, relativizes or even conceals migrant groups of perpetrators, although according to those affected they are very relevant, prevents an actual solution.”

According to the queer political spokesman for the Berlin SPD parliamentary group, Mathias Schulz, the crimes are often committed by groups of men. “One thing is clear: there must be zero tolerance for those who discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The anti-violence project Maneo complains that it was unable to evaluate numerous cases and tips from the past year. The data protection officer of the Berlin prosecution authorities has decreed that the police are no longer allowed to provide victim advice centers with information about the crime scene and age of those involved, not even a detailed description of the crime – “to prevent re-identification”, as stated in the note available to WELT called.

The red-red-green coalition is now criticizing the exchange ban. “This absurd new regulation must not remain in place under any circumstances,” says queer politician Schulz. His colleague from the Left Group, Claudia Engelmann, says: “Here it is necessary to examine and, if necessary, to take legislative action in order not to jeopardize the important work of civil society organizations.” Support also comes from opposition leader Wegner: “Data protection must not come before victim protection stand.”

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