Fundamental Rights Agency and Italian EU Presidency use propaganda tactics to “tackle LGBT discrimination”

In 1989 Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, two gay rights activists, published “After the Ball – a seminal book in which they called for a new strategy to make America accept the homosexual agenda. Rather than through “Gay Pride” events and other provocative exhibitions of their sexual behaviours that might make non-homosexuals grasp and visualize what “being gay” really is about, gays and lesbians should follow a carefully devised strategy consisting of the following elements: first, to grossly overstate the size of the gay, lesbian, and transsexual population in order to make it appear both “normal” and socially relevant; second, to “de-sensitize society against homosexuality” by presenting homosexuals as “people who are like everybody else”, i.e. as hard working employees, good friends, caring “parents”, etc.; third, to portray them as a class of people who through no choice of their own (and certainly not as a result of any freely chosen behaviour!) constitute a “minority” deserving of special protections; fourth, to show them as “victims of discrimination”, to make the rest of society feel guilty for it, and, finally, to capitalize on this sentiment of guilt.

Kirk and Madsen were perfectly aware that their strategy had nothing to do with informing the public, or with organising a fair and balanced debate. Quite on the contrary: “The campaign we outline … depends centrally upon a program of unabashed propaganda.”

Looking back at the last 25 years, the spectacular success of this strategy is undeniable. And given its success in America, it should not surprise us that it is now being applied also in Europe.

The EU bureaucracy, and in particular the EU’s “Fundamental Rights Agency“, play a key role in this. Most citizens do not follow the Agency’s work with a keen interest, which helps it to escape close scrutiny. At the same time it has huge budgets to spend. And, last but not least, not being accountable to any electorate has helped its representatives to acquire the aura of “independent experts” who act in the general interest and in whose authority one should have trust. In short, this is the perfect environment for the gay lobby to serve both as a target and a multiplier of its propaganda.

A conference with the title “Tackling sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination: next steps in EU and Member State policy making”, held last week on the premises of the Council of the EU in Brussels (and hosted by the FRA jointly with the Italian government in its role as the Council’s presidency pro tempore) provides the perfect example for the way in which the strategy developed by Kirk/Madsen is currently being implemented at the European level.

Take for example, the format of the event itself. The exact meaning of concepts such as “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” is rather unclear, nor has it ever been demonstrated that “discrimination” is experienced more frequently by gays and lesbians than by anyone else. Issues such as same-sex “marriage” or the so-called “Horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive” remain highly controversial in all EU Member States, including the more “progressive” ones: it suffices to remind of the fact that the proposed Directive, after having been discussed for more than six years seems still far away from being adopted by Member States, and that the introduction of the mariage pour tous in France led to civil society protests of unprecedented magnitude on the streets of Paris. It would therefore have been highly appropriate and useful to organize a fair and balanced discussion on those matters, in which all have an equal opportunity to express their views. But that is apparently not the “equality” that the FRA, which has selected “equality” as one of its priorities, has in mind. The conference it organised could be described as a rather hermetic event, more similar to a party rally than a forum for serious minded debate. Rampant “discrimination” was considered a given, and incisive legislative measures were called for. Panels consisted exclusively of prominent supporters and promoters of this agenda; diverging points of view were absolutely unwelcome. When someone from the audience dared to ask a critical question about the methodology of the FRA’s “Survey” on the situation of LGBT persons in Europe, he was immediately silenced, and his question remained unanswered.

Which brings me to my next subject. That “Survey”, which FRA proudly announced to be “the largest and most comprehensive of its kind to date”, can in fact hardly be called by that name, given that the methodology that was developed for it brazenly disrespects even the most basic principles of sound social research. In that context, it should be noted that opinion surveying is normally carried out on the basis of samples of respondents that are carefully selected in order to be representative for the society that is being researched. The representativeness of respondents is precisely what determines the quality of a survey, and there are highly sophisticated rules to be followed. If, as was the case with the controversial “Survey”, the research is focused solely on self-identified “LGBT persons”, then the task is to find a sufficiently large sample of respondents that is representative of this particular sub-set of society.

But that was not what happened. The FRA apparently does not care about such methodological standards. Its “Survey” was based on an on-line questionnaire that was freely accessible on the internet, allowing everyone who so wished to submit a response, or even as many responses as he or she liked. In addition, the project was carried out in cooperation with ILGA Europe, which, as the European network of gay lobby groups, had an evident political self interest in the outcome of the survey. ILGA-Europe and other lobby groups advertised the survey among their members, urging them to “make their voices heard”, i.e. to use the survey as an occasion to complain about instances of “discrimination” and “bullying”. The participation in the survey being completely anonymous, and the definition of “discrimination” remaining rather wide, this methodology is not likely to yield a very realistic picture of the situation: even assuming the sincerity (and lack of self-interest) of all respondents, the survey does not evidence any concrete and verifiable instances of discrimination, but simply the subjective perception of self-selected respondents.

So, which conclusions should be drawn from this survey? According to FRA Director Morten Kjaerum, it evidences that “homophobia” is rampant in the EU. “66 % of respondents”, he says, “feel afraid to hold their hands in public with their partner”, and “almost half (47 %) of all respondents said that they had felt personally discriminated against or harassed on the grounds of sexual orientation in the year preceding the survey”.

Yet these statements are doubly misleading. The word “respondents” in conjunction with “survey” suggests that a scientific approach was followed, which is actually not the case. For a survey carried out on the basis of recognized methodological standards, an amount of 93.000 LGBT respondents would indeed be a huge sample that would lend a great credibility to the study. In actual fact, however, the “respondents” were self-selected, and therefore not representative at all. The real conclusion is thus the following: over a period of 4 months ILGA-Europe and its member organisations were able to mobilise 93.000 (or maybe less?) self-identified “LGBT persons” to participate in the survey, i.e. to anonymously complain about unspecified and unverifiable instances of “discrimination”. If the LGBT lobby’s consistently held (yet unproven) claim that 10% of the population are gay or lesbian were true, then the 93.000 “respondents” mobilised by ILGA and other lobby groups represent less than 2‰ of the entire LGBT population. In absolute numbers, the survey informs us about roughly 40.000 alleged cases of “discrimination” over one year. Kjaerum also says that most of those cases were never reported to the police because the respondents believed that the police would not follow up on such complaints. But has such “underreporting”, as he calls it, really to do with police bias against homosexuals? Or is it not that many of those “discriminations are really far below what a reasonable person would believe to be a crime?

Be that as it may, if set in relation to the official crime statistics published by EU Member States, the findings of the study are hardly the stuff that is worthy of headlines.

At the very best, the “Survey” could be interpreted as some kind of “petition” in favour of the agenda that ILGA Europe and the FRA are promoting: the “Equal Treatment Directive” and same-sex “marriage”. But even interpreted in this way this turnout is rather unimpressive. Instead, one has reason to wonder why such a “petition”, financed with 400.000 Euro of taxpayers’ money and endorsed by 93.000 anonymous “respondents”, should be a reason for the EU to attach a high priority to the agenda thus promoted, while at the same time a European Citizens’ Initiative like “One of Us”, which had to be financed by donations from civil society and was endorsed by nearly 2 million citizens (on the basis of a much more demanding procedure that verified the identity of each signatory and ensured that nobody signed twice) is coolly dismissed by the European Commission as if it had no importance at all. Yet “One of Us” dealt not with some petty incidents of “discrimination”, but with the right to life, which is the most fundamental of all fundamental rights. How can this double standard be explained? Is it really “LGBT persons” who are nowadays the primary targets of “discrimination”?

Reverting to the FRA Survey, and to the EU Agency promoting it, it is impossible not to notice how closely they follow the script written by Kirk/Madsen: portray gays as victims, and call for urgent action. Based on an irredeemably unscientific methodology, the survey has apparently no scientific, but only a propagandistic purpose: to provide confirmation for the gay community’s narrative as an “oppressed minority”, and to prepare the ground for new legislative measures. And the FRA does not even seek to conceal this: even before the survey was launched, it already announced that its results “should set the agenda for years to come”.

According to the regulation by which it was set up, the FRA’s task of providing assistance and expertise relating to fundamental rights includes the carrying out of “scientific research and surveys”. But the “LGBT Survey” does not qualify as “scientific”, nor is it even  – in the proper sense of the word – a “survey”. It is, to use the words of Kirk and Madsen, “unabashed propaganda”, and it serves the apparent purpose of manipulating the public opinion. Outside the hermetic circle of the FRA it will have little credibility, and European citizens may well ask themselves whether this is what they expect as an output from an Agency that costs them more than 20 million Euro per year.

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