Life on the Margins: Survey Results of the Experiences of LGBTI People in Southeastern Europe | Háttér Társaság

Life on the Margins: Survey Results of the Experiences of LGBTI People in Southeastern Europe

CímLife on the Margins: Survey Results of the Experiences of LGBTI People in Southeastern Europe
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This survey was conducted to better understand the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and
intersex (LGBTI) people in seven countries in Southeastern Europe: five in the Western Balkans -
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, and Montenegro; as well as two
European Union (EU) member states, Croatia and Slovenia. The research adopted and adapted a
2012 survey of LGBT people carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
in 27 EU countries plus Croatia (which joined the EU in 2013) (the “FRA survey”). The FRA survey set a
benchmark for understanding the lives of LGBT people. In addition to the FRA survey, this current
survey also gathered specific information on the lives of intersex people.
The collective experiences of LGBTI people in the countries surveyed paint a distressing picture of
the harmful effects of discrimination, harassment, exclusion, and violence. The findings confirm that
generally, most LGBTI people hide their identities for fear of discrimination or worse and have
legitimate concerns about their safety, especially in public spaces, but also in their own homes. The
survey indicates that the majority of LGBTI people are not involved in LGBTI movements and have
limited knowledge of their rights and how to exercise them. Many are on the receiving end of offensive
jokes, insults, abusive language, and expressions of hatred. Discrimination in the workplace and in the
health care and education systems remains common, and incidents of exclusion and harassment are
Despite the frequent discrimination, harassment, and violence that LGBTI people face, specific
incidents are seldom reported. In the few instances in which reports are made, there is usually
inaction or inadequate action to address the situation. Unsurprisingly, many LGBTI people are of the
view that very few beneficial measures are being taken to improve their lives and that more needs to
be done. For example, the public and LGBTI people themselves need to become more aware of LGBTI
rights, and national human rights authorities should be strengthened to effectively address and
protect those rights. Many respondents felt that the increased visibility of LGBTI people through, for
example, more vocal support from public figures would help promote respect for their rights.
Even though five years have passed since the FRA survey, the situation for LGBTI people in the
Western Balkan countries is much worse than the experience of their peers in the EU, across nearly
all dimensions. This is particularly concerning, as the FRA survey uncovered disturbing findings of
discrimination and violence against LGBT people. The poor situation for LGBTI people in Southeastern
Europe exists even with positive advancements in legislation. The FRA survey contributed to
discussions about measures that EU member states should take to improve the lives of LGBT people.
It is hoped that the findings of the current survey can do the same, as well as inform accession
discussions for those five Western Balkan states not yet part of the EU.
This is the largest survey of LGBTI people ever carried out in Southeastern Europe. A total of 2,296
people responded. In a context of widespread stigma, the survey was conducted online to allow the
widest number of people to participate privately and confidentially.1

Since respondents had to “opt
in” to the survey, the data is from self-selected participants and is therefore not a random sample of
LGBTI people in the participating countries. It is difficult to obtain a representative sample of LGBTI
people, so online surveys are considered the most appropriate method for surveying sexual and
gender minorities.2 The survey sampling method and recruitment is consistent with previous studies
of these populations, including the FRA survey.3 The sample was weighted to population targets derived from a meta-analysis, and each country sample was weighted proportionately to the size of
its adults’ population.

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