In the German capital, a growing number of crimes motivated by hatred of sexual minorities: at the end of 2019, the number of attacks of this kind increased by one-third. What is behind these figures – have DW.
Since the night has passed almost year, and Michael Vlotho, it seems, still can’t get over it and visibly worried, when he tells about what happened to him. A former journalist and editor, now retired, he is a rare case of a man affected by the attack on the grounds of homophobia and ready to talk about it openly. Less than a year ago Vlotho was beaten in broad daylight near his home.
In July 2020, the Berlin court has sentenced the offenders to a fine of 1000 euros. Michael Vlotho outraged by low, in his opinion, amount: “Hate in their eyes haunted me for months. Hatred, followed by blows. And all because I don’t live the way I want these goons”.
A special LGBT division of the police of Berlin
Michael Vlotho – one of hundreds of victims last year in Berlin from attacks motivated by homophobia. Their number at the end of 2019, the increased in comparison with the previous year by one third. A statement to the police Vlotho wrote the next day after the attack, his attackers were not random passers-by, and the owner and waiter of the bar near his house.
And already after only 12 hours he was back from the Berlin police Department to work with the LGBT community. Ten months that have passed from the attack to the verdict, the LGBT division provided legal and psychological assistance to the victim. He evaluates the work of the police thus: “crazy. I was not expecting”.
Berlin was the first German city, the police Department which in the early 1990s, has established a Department on work with sexual minorities. And it was at a time when the German Criminal code still preserved in the article providing for punishment for sex between men.
Rising homophobic sentiment or the growth of tolerance of the police?
Police Commissioner Anna Griesbach (Anne Grie?bach) in law enforcement since 1996. Then, she says, on this subject all just laughed, but in twenty years much has changed. 2017 Anna works in the LGBT Department of the Berlin police. Such units have, in addition to Berlin, only two Federal States of Germany – Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein.
Their goal is to reduce mutual fears in the relations between the police and the LGBT community. Division staff help, on the one hand, representatives of the LGBT community to receive legal protection after attacks. Another area of work – educational activity among police officers themselves.
According to Anna Griesbach, a very significant jump in the number of reported attacks against members of the LGBT community in Berlin can be explained not by the rise of homophobic sentiment in the city, but on the contrary, the growth of tolerance among the police – as a result, victims of the attacks less embarrassed to write statements to the police. And thus offences which would previously have remained unnoticed, create this, at first glance, frightening statistics.
“Willingness to notify the police of crimes motivated by homophobia in recent years is increasing, – indicates Griesbach. – Growing confidence in the police. But we shouldn’t stop there. We need to make sure that no one was afraid to write a statement to the police.”
Her colleague Sebastian Stipp (Sebastian Stipp) adds: “Before, the police targeted the LGBT and earned himself the image of the enemy. Now we are working to is enemies become partners of the LGBT community. Because we want people to trust us if they become victims.”
Hundreds of calls to the organization to help victims of violence
In the non-profit organization “Maneo”, founded 30 years ago, are helping the victims of such attacks. For 2019 here consulted 760. A separate line in its annual report “Maneo” captures attacks on LGBT refugees of 28 cases, 33 victims. Every Thursday “Maneo” counselling for LGBT refugees and for attracting the help of translators from Arabic, Farsi, French and Russian languages.
Director of “Maneo” Bastian Finke (Bastian Finke) agree with the explanation of the police – recorded statistics, the growth in the number of attacks is not due to the jump of homophobia in Berlin, but on the contrary, the emancipation of the LGBT community, whose members are less afraid to ask for help to the police.
Moreover, according to Finke, the LGBT consultants work not only in the police Department, but also in all power structures of the German capital – from the district police to the police Academy and counterintelligence. “This is a signal that in Berlin are actively fighting violence on the grounds of homophobia,” he says.
“I wanted to give a voice to all those who have been attacked “
Before last year’s elections to the European Parliament Michael Vlotho established himself on the balcony “mixed” flag – blue with Golden stars banner of the EU and the LGBT rainbow symbol on it. The panel, according to Vlotho, proved surprisingly persistent and survived all the vagaries of the weather. He although dissatisfied with the low amount of the fine imposed on his attackers, but admits that the whole story with the beatings, police, court and sentence, only strengthened his faith in the rule of law.
“Sometimes I wanted to withdraw the application, he says. – It seemed to me that I can’t handle all of this. I was scared of the thought that I will see in court those who beat me, I’ll have to look them in the eye”.
But Vlotho overcame my fears after meeting with the Israelite, who, because of anti-Semitic attacks afraid to speak Hebrew and wear a kippah in public places in Berlin. “I decided to stand up for all those who cannot stand up for themselves like I, emphasizes Michael Vlotho. – I decided to become a mouthpiece for all those who are subjected to abuse on the grounds of anti-Semitism and racism”.
And even he was impressed by the speed with which his case passed the instance of the Berlin police from applying to a call from the LGBT division it’s only been 12 hours – unheard of pace for the capital’s bureaucracy, which is famous throughout Germany for its sluggishness.
Law enforcement officers