Why are LGBTQ people overrepresented everywhere

Culture clash

Asked around a bit. Again, an EU agency has submitted a survey that shows where there are none. Is that already representative of the Union?


The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has presented what it claims to be "the largest survey ever conducted on hate crimes and discrimination against LGBT people" (LGBT means lesbian, gay, bi and transgender) - an online survey of 93,000 people from the EU and Croatia participated.

The duty to respect homosexual people is beyond question. However, the study is a fine example of the rampant misuse of studies in EU circles, which leads to the illusion of findings where none exist. Many believe that a survey is representative if enough people take part. But it is not. In a self-recruited sample - if people take part in the survey of their own accord - mostly those people are massively overrepresented who are particularly concerned about the topic.

And the FRA proceeded as unrepresentative as possible: questionnaires on the Internet, invitation to all non-heterosexuals to participate, above all through advertising in relevant organizations. The result is not a sample representative of the LGBT world, but a mere collection of data. And theoretically, a single activist with a well-written computer program could have completed all the questionnaires all by himself.

The textbook “Social Research on the Internet” simply says: If “the respondents decide for themselves whether they want to be part of the sample, the survey results only say something about the respondents and are therefore usually useless”. If around six percent of the participants say they were attacked or threatened because of their orientation in the past year, that only says that it was the same for these 5580 participants. Every single attack is to be condemned. But what is the real level of violence against LGBT people in Europe? The study tells us exactly nothing about this. And it was already known that there was such violence.

But the study is not free. It cost us Europeans 300,000 euros. And it serves a purpose: although it does not provide any new knowledge, it can be used to put pressure on and at least ask for more funding for institutions like the FRA. The media play along well. The “Spiegel” correctly writes in its report that the study cannot be generalized. The title is then: "EU study: Lesbians and gays do not feel safe in Europe". From an activist's point of view, that's okay. But should EU institutions indulge in activism?

The author was deputy Editor-in-chief of the “Presse” and is now head of communications for the Archdiocese of Vienna.

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("Die Presse", print edition, May 19, 2013)