By Enrique Anarte
BERLIN, May 4 (Openly) - Hate crimes against LGBT+ people increased by 36% in Germany in 2020, highlighting an increase in homophobic attacks and politically motivated violence in the country in recent years, the government and campaigners said on Tuesday.
A total of 782 crimes targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were reported last year, about 150 of which involved violence, police data showed.
"Hate crimes against queer people have been on the rise in the past three or four years," said Markus Ulrich, a spokesman for Germany's biggest LGBT+ group LSVD.
"There is a trend," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding that the rise might also partly reflect greater willingness among LGBT+ people to go to the police to report crimes against them.
The figures released on LGBT+ hate crimes did not include the killing last year of a gay man in Dresden and another in Altenburg because they were classified as murders rather than hate crimes.
A Syrian man has been charged with the Dresden killing and two far-right supporters are accused of the Altenburg murder.
Data released by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) also showed a 8.54% rise in politically motivated crimes, with those involving violence increasing by 18.8% compared with 2019.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in a statement the rise was "worrying because it consolidates a trend of recent years".
More than half of the perpetrators of politically motivated acts were far-right supporters. Anti-Semitic and xenophobic hate crimes rose by 15.7% and 19.1%, respectively.
A 2020 survey by the U.S.-based think-tank Pew Research Center found that 86% of Germans think homosexuality should be accepted, and Ulrich said attitudes were changing.
"Queer people feel more secure to go report these incidents to the police, which might not have been the same in the past," he said.
"In the past few years, the German police have improved the way they register these crimes and they're more likely to label them specifically as hate crimes against LGBT+ people," he said.
Still, 13% of LGBT+ Germans say they have been the victim of a violent attack on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, an EU survey showed last year.
(Reporting by Enrique Anarte @enriqueanarte; Editing by Helen Popper and Hugo Greenhalgh. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)