Transphobic attacks in Germany likely to be under-recorded

An attack on a 15-year-old trans girl in North Rhine-Westphalia has highlighted the problems with reporting transphobic violence in Germany.

The justice emblem on the sleeve of a correctional officer is seen in front of a rainbow flag.
The justice emblem on the sleeve of a correctional officer is seen in front of a rainbow flag. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

At the end of March, police in the city of Herne in North Rhine-Westphalia reported a violent attack by three 12- and 13-year-olds which left the 15-year-old victim in hospital.

What the police didn’t report, however, was the fact that the victim was a trans girl; this only came to light after the victim and her mother gave an interview to RTL news.

According to trans rights activists, this case highlights the fact that the real figure of transphobic attacks is likely to be a lot higher than the official figures show.

In an interview with Taggeschau, Sarah Ponti of the Lesbian and Gay Association in Germany (LSVD) said that transphobic crimes are on the rise and “among queer-hostile crimes, trans-hostile crimes are the most common.”

READ ALSO: Germany appoints first ever commissioner for LGBTQ issues

The fact that there is hardly any research on this issue means that the causes are also unclear; “Does it have to do with a growing visibility of trans people? Or is trans-hostile sentiment on the rise? Or both?” she said.

Ponti also criticised the lack of specific categories for recording trans-hostile violence, which results in difficulties for the police in assigning offences. This would improve, she said, if transphobia were introduced as a subcategory.

A spokesperson from the Federal Ministry of the Interior explained that the subtopic “Gender/Sexual Identity” has been differentiated since the new year.

READ ALSO: Meet the Bavarian politician fighting for trans rights in the German election

“Since then, corresponding crimes have been recorded separately in the categories ‘ misogynist,’ ‘anti-male’, and ‘gender diversity,'” a spokesman said.

But there are also other hurdles to overcome. The LSVD spokesperson also pointed out that transphobic hate violence is often not recognised by police or prosecutors because transphobic motives are not mentioned in the relevant criminal laws.

According to Ponti, victims often conceal their attackers’ motives, either out of shame or because they do not trust the police.

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German jailed for life in double police murder

A German man was given a life sentence on Wednesday for shooting dead two police officers to escape being caught for illegal game hunting during a routine traffic check.

German jailed for life in double police murder

The regional court in Kaiserslautern found 39-year-old Andreas Schmitt guilty of the killings in January this year, which sent shockwaves across Germany.

His co-defendant, referred to by the court as Florian V., was found guilty of abetting illegal poaching.

The 33-year-old was in the car with Schmitt when the officers discovered dead game in the boot, investigators said.

“We are all to this day horrified that a supposed routine control could turn into a fatal incident,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement after the verdict.

READ ALSO: German prosecutors say poaching led to double police murder

The victims were a 24-year-old woman police officer still in training and her colleague, a 29-year-old man.

The young woman was killed by a single shot to the head, while the man was shot four times, investigators said.

The officers were able to report that they were checking a suspicious vehicle and that shots were being fired before radio contact broke off.

When backup arrived, the woman was already dead and the man fatally injured. The perpetrators had fled the scene.

The crime in the Kusel district of Rhineland-Palatinate state triggered a major manhunt, with police deploying helicopters and sniffer dogs, sealing off roads and warning local residents not to pick up hitchhikers.