The report entitled, Gender equality and empowering women in the digital age, was adopted by a majority of lawmakers yesterday, although Mike Hookem MEP, from UKIP, voted against it.
The report calls upon the EU Commission to demand greater efforts from members to prosecute any homophobic or transphobic crimes that take place online. It adds that Member States should properly apply the EU legislation relating to the rights of victims (par. 54).
Furthermore, it urges policymakers to ensure that a framework is in place guaranteeing that law enforcement agencies are able to deal with online bias-motivated threats and harassment (par. 53).
Terry Reintke MEP, Member of the EU’s LGBTI Intergroup and author of the report, reacted: “While online abuse can affect anyone, women and LGBTI people often experience abuse as a result of their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or sex characteristics. UK research shows that one in four LGBTI pupils have experienced cyber bullying.”
“If we are serious about tackling discrimination in all its forms, we cannot leave such abuse unchallenged. Just because it happens in virtual space, does not mean that abuse can go unpunished.”
Malin Bjork MEP, Vice-President of the EU’s LGBTI Intergroup, who was involved in the writing of the report, continued: “Many women and LGBTI people face online harassment, hate speech or blackmail. However, it is often unclear how to report the offence and where to seek help.”
“This report seeks to address this gap. We need to ensure that protection from harassment and abuse against women and LGBTI people in the real world exists in the online world too.”