Social Issues
Homophobic Threats & Attacks Widespread In Europe, Says New Poll
May 17, 2013
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Gay rights activists launch balloons during a rally in St. Petersburg, Russia

As the world marks the 'International Day To End Homophobia', a major new poll is out reinforcing the need for this kind of awareness.

The poll, done in the European Union, found that just over a quarter of gay people surveyed say they've been the victim of attacks or violent threats in the past five years.

And it suggests that lower income and younger people are more likely to face discrimination based on their sexuality.

93,000 people in the EU and Croatia took part in the survey - the first in the EU of this size. They were asked whether they had experienced discrimination, violence, verbal abuse or hate speech related to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Here are some of the key findings:

• East European states had the highest levels of homophobic behavior

• Most of the reported attacks took place in public and were carried out by more than one person, usually men

• More than half of those who said they'd been attacked didn't report it, because they didn't think authorities would take action

• 20% of gay or bisexual respondents and 29% of transgender respondents said they had suffered discrimination at work or when looking for a job

• Two-thirds of respondents said they had tried to hide their sexuality at school

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Gay rights activists in Serbia hold a Rainbow Picnic to mark Int'l Day Against Homophobia

Gay rights organizations welcomed the report but say EU leaders have to do more to promote LGBTQ rights, pass legislation to strengthen equality, and enforce laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and violence.

Ilga-Europe, a non-governmental organization, said in its latest report there's been "little legislative progress towards protecting LGBT (people) from discrimination in accessing goods and services".

It also pointed out that gay people in former Soviet states like Russia and Georgia are often threatened or attacked during public protests.

Today, in Georgia's capital, about 10,000 anti-gay protesters broke through police barricades, beating and chasing about two dozen gay activists who tried to mark the International Day Against Homophobia.

And in Russia, authorities in Moscow have again banned a gay pride parade for next Saturday and a gay rights rally next Sunday.

Last August, Moscow's top court upheld a ban on gay pride marches in the city for the next 100 years.

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A gay rights activist and a Russian nationalist scuffle at a gay rally in St. Petersburg

In March, authorities in Syktyvkar - the capital city in Komi Republic in Russia - banned a gay pride parade as well. On the same day as the cancellation, the gay pride organizer and chair of the local LGBT group was attacked and beaten by the leader of a neo-Nazi group.

The NGO Ilga says Europe's economic crisis is partly to blame, as it has brought out extreme, radical elements of society.

"Look how easily political opinion is being manipulated in Europe, how certain rhetoric can provoke violence, and it is very easy for people to go back into the closet," Ilga's communications manager Juris Lavrikovs said.

"Look at France, which used to be considered a very liberal, very open country. Now, it is scary for a gay couple to walk hand in hand in Paris because of the increase in violence."

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Georgian police detain gay rights activists after clashes with a conservative religious group - May 17, 2012

Two years ago, two university professors in Manitoba released a national survey on homophobia in Canadian schools.

It found that homophobic comments are a common, accepted part of school life - even said by some teachers. And nearly two out of three LGBTQ students didn't feel safe in their schools.

• 70% of students surveyed heard comments like "That's so gay" on a daily basis; 48% heard words such as "faggot," "lezbo" and "dyke" every day in school

• 55% of sexual minority students were verbally harassed in school

• 21% of LGBTQ students were physically harassed or assaulted in school

• 58% of straight students find homophobic comments upsetting

In March, the Quebec government launched a new ad campaign designed to get people thinking about just how open-minded they are about homosexuality.

With each ad, you have no idea until the end what it's about. In one ad (pictured below), a man is texting his lover while waiting at the airport.

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Then, a man and woman walk off the plane, the woman walks by, and the two men embrace in a kiss. A narrator then asks: "Does this change what you were thinking 20 seconds ago?"

The ads are part of a $7.1 million, five-year anti-homophobia campaign by the Quebec government.

via The BBC

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