The EU Fundamental Rights Agency has decided to spend €370.000 of taxpayers’ money on a new LGBT survey on 'discrimination against LGBT people' in Europe. Given the way the survey is designed the result is preset: Almost every LGBT person faces ‘discrimination’. The claims are predictable: laws need to be changed, privileges granted, dissenting opinion prosecuted as ‘hate speech’. Now the 'facts' have to be fabricated. FRA and ILGA Europe have taken up work.

In a few months from now, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) will publish an alarming report, affirming that the rampant discrimination of homosexuals and lesbians is one of the most serious social problems in the EU, and that radical legislative measures are necessary to address it. We may safely assume that the report is already in the course of being drafted. What is still missing, however, are the “facts” on which the report will be based. These still need to be fabricated.

To this end, the Agency has commissioned a “European LGBT Survey” that is carried out by the market research institute Gallup jointly with the controversial LGBT pressure group “ILGA-Europe”.

ILGA Europe is controversial because it claims to be an independent “non-governmental organization”, while actual fact it receives roughly 70% of its funding from the European Commission, and additional funding from the Dutch government. The rest of the funding stems from three wealthy individuals (George Soros, Sigrid Rausing, and one anonymous donor). The “European LGBT Survey” provides yet another pretext for shovelling taxpayers’ money into ILGA’s pockets: according to the organization’s budget planning for 2012, “ILGA-Europe in partnership with Gallup has won the FRA tender in the amount of 370 000 Euros on conducting a survey on the discrimination and victimisation of LGBT people in the European Union.”

The survey can be found on the internet at:

www.lgbtsurvey.eu

A short glance suffices to understand that the purpose of the survey is not to find any real facts about real discrimination of real LGBT persons, but to provide for the FRA’s pre-fabricated report and political agenda a false appearance of “being founded on serious social research”. The speculation is that the public will be impressed by the alarming “facts and figures” the Agency is going to publish in its report, without anyone asking how these data were attained...

Just consider the following:

1. Only LGBT people are allowed to answer the questionnaire:   

In any serious-minded survey, researchers would do their utmost to ensure that those participating in the survey are truly representative of the general population (in terms of age, sex, social status, education, religion, etc.) in order to capture the general perception  of an issue in society. This would not prevent them to then analyse the answers given by a particular segment of society (e.g. LGBT people) and compare them to those given by the rest of the population. Indeed, such a comparison would have the merit of providing insight on how a given group’s self-perception compares to the way the group is perceived by the rest of society.

In the case of the “European LGBT Survey”, however, the opinions and experiences of the non-LGBT majority of society count for nothing. They are simply not allowed to participate. Whoever states that he is not LGBT gets the following message:

"Thank you for your willingness to participate in the survey, however, you are not within the target group of the survey, so you won't be able to fill out the rest of the questionnaire. Many thanks for your interest in the European LGBT Survey!"

This means that from the very outset the survey has not the purpose of finding out the views and experiences of society in general, but only of LGBT people. Indeed, the opinions of LGBT people seem to be the one and only source of truth. Will anyone be surprised, then, that the result of this survey will be that “there is widespread discrimination against LGBT people”? Everyone knows that LGBT people generally view themselves as victims of discrimination, and it is hard to understand why 370.000 Euro must be spent on a Gallup survey to make this ground-breaking “discovery”.

It would be far more interesting to know whether the rest of society shares the perception of LGBT persons being victims of discrimination, or whether, as might well be the case, view LGBT people as a particularly pushy pressure group in search for privileges that are difficult to justify. But such results, it appears, would not be useful for FRA and ILGA.

2. Only highly motivated LGBT victims are likely to respond to the survey:

The Survey not only excludes all non-LGBTs, but it also de facto excludes all LGBT persons who do not consider themselves victims of discrimination.

The Survey contains about fifty questions. Even if a respondent answers all questions very quickly and without taking time to reflect, it takes certainly not less than half an hour to complete the questionnaire. But  it is hard to imagine that any LGBT person would spend half an hour or more to fill out a questionnaire, only to inform the FRA that he/she does not believe to have been a victim of discrimination. In other words, only persons who are highly motivated to convey the message that they have been discriminated against are likely to participate the survey.

It is thus easy to predict that, based on this survey, FRA will soon inform us that “99,9 % of LGBT persons report to have been victims of discrimination”. The way this survey is organized, any other outcome would be truly surprising.

3. The survey is anonymous and not based on verifiable facts:

The survey is anonymous and there is nothing to prevent one and the same person from replying to the questionnaire twenty times or more. In addition, when respondents are asked to report their experiences of “discrimination”, they are not asked to provide any verifiable facts. This means that the survey could, in the worst of cases, be used by a small group of activists to report a huge quantity of completely fictitious incidents of “discrimination”. But even in the best of cases, this survey would inform us of the participants’ sentiments and perceptions rather than of any real discrimination.

This is in stark contrast to the more facts-based approach chosen by other researchers. For example, the "Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians" has recently published an Annual Report for 2011, in which it meticulously lists more than 600 incidents in which Christians have been the victims of discrimination, harassment, and violence. For each of these cases, all of which have occurred within the last year, the report indicates time, place, and the essential facts. This makes allegations credible and verifiable.

With regard to the discrimination allegedly suffered by LGBT people it must be observed that already in 2008 the FRA produced a lengthy report in which it deplored the high incidence of discrimination against homosexuals. But the data collected from official sources (e.g. from police or judiciary instance) did not at all support that conclusion; indeed it rather seemed to demonstrate that crimes or harassment that had a clearly ‘homophobic’ background were rather infrequent. The FRA sought to explain this discrepancy with the statement that “fewer registered complaints clearly does not mean that there is less discrimination”, hinting at the possibility of “underreporting”. But even that appeared a rather unlikely explanation, given that of the few cases in which complaints about “homophobic discrimination” had been filed, most had been dismissed as unfounded by the competent authorities, which must rather be seen as evidence for “overreporting”. This provoked one commentator to scathingly ask “what the statistics would have to look like in order for FRA to conclude that ‘homophobia’ currently is not a major problem” , and to suggest that “no data and no statistics would ever be allowed to lead to that (unwelcome?) conclusion. From the way statistics are used (here) it can safely be concluded that the contemporary concern over ‘homophobia’ is completely unrelated to any verifiable facts and figures. Much of this homophobia talk results from an ideology that generates its own reality.”

The “European LGBT Survey” seems to be part of this scheme. It offers no account of real discrimination or harassment suffered by real people, but informs about the perceptions and sentiments of people who, if they really exist, prefer to remain anonymous. This is not a sufficient basis to justify any policy choices.

4. The questionnaire uses suggestive questions. Some of them are out of bounds

Last but not least, the questions contained in the questionnaire deserve criticism for the way in which they are drafted. They are suggestive questions, which are likely to direct the respondent to give answers that he would not give spontaneously:

"What would allow you to be more comfortable living as a lesbian, gay or bisexual person in the country where you live?"

Answer 1: "Anti-discrimination policies referring to sexual orientation at the workplace."

Answer 2: "Measures implemented at school to respect lesbian, gay and bisexual people."

Answer 3: "Public figures in politics, business, sports, etc. openly speaking in support of lesbian, gay and bisexual people."

Each answer can be ranked from "Strongly disagree" to "Stronly agree".

The question is not open (i.e. it does not allow the respondent to answer what he thinks that would be helpful), but pushes him to give his assent to “anti-discrimination policies” and “measures implemented at school”. However, no explanation is provided as to what these “policies” and “measures” consist of. In other words, FRA will ultimately be able to quote the Survey as lending support to whatever policy or measures it may want to propose.

Some of the questions are, in addition, revelatory of a political agenda that by far exceeds the legal competences of the European Union:

"Better acceptance of differences in sexual orientation by religious leaders."

Indeed, the above question seems to suggest that FRA wants to regulate the content of religious doctrines, or to outlaw all religions that do not comply with the Agency’s own views on homosexuality. In this way, one has reason to wonder whether the Agency, whose task it is to protect fundamental rights, is not in danger of undermining one of the fundamental rights (i.e. freedom of religion) that it should protect.

Finally, some of the suggested solutions to ease the situation of LGBT people clearly are outside the competence of the EU and even have nothing to do with “discrimination”:

"The possibility to marry and/or register a partnership"

"The possibility to foster/adopt children"

"Recognition of same-sex partnerships across the European Union"

Marriage and adoption is not a competence of the EU but of Member States. It seems hard to justify that the EU finances (through the FRA) a Survey that suggests policies that are outside its competences.

Conclusion:

The Survey currently carried out by Gallup and ILGA at the request of the FRA is a scam and has no credibility whatsoever. Its approach is ideologically biased and hopelessly unscientific, and its apparent purpose is to manipulate the public opinion, passing off the opinions of a small but noisy pressure group as social “facts”. It is regrettable that the Fundamental Rights Agency has decided to spend 370.000 Euro of taxpayers’ money on such an absurd project, and that none of the supervisory organs of the Agency has prevented this from happening. The money could have been used for better purposes. But now that the survey is going to be carried out, we should at least not commit the error of taking it seriously.