(Bloomberg) -- Belgium is adopting a new plan to fight discrimination and ensure more rights for LGBTQ people as it strives to bring down the country’s high rate of assaults based on sexual orientation.

The federal government plan brings together 133 measures in collaboration with 10 federal ministries aimed at improving safety and increasing opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“Belgium has always been a pioneer in terms of of LGBTQI+ rights,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in the plan. “However, there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Belgium, which legalized homosexual marriage almost 20 years ago, has made considerable legislative changes aimed at improving fundamental rights, including adoptions by same-sex couples, and it passed a law to protect the rights of transgender people. Yet according to a study by the European Union’s Agency For Fundamental Rights, Belgium is tied for third after Poland and Romania with the highest rate of physical or sexual assaults motivated by the fact that the victim is LGBTQ.

Unia, a public institution that fights discrimination and promotes equal opportunities, recorded more than 400 cases of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 2020. The situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic, with the lockdown and curfews having led to increased isolation and a direct impact on mental health of LGBTQ people.

“It is no longer enough to be ‘tolerant,’” said Sarah Schlitz, state secretary for gender equality and diversity. “In the face of hatred, we must all commit ourselves openly, without any omission, so that each and everyone could lead the life they want.

The plan will focus on increasing awareness and knowledge to better respond to current realities and needs of LGBTQ people, and ensuring their rights are considered in every policy, while also promoting access to health and fighting against phobic violence and discrimination. The results of the plan will be evaluated in 2024. 

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