EU LGBT Survey: Poll on homophobia sparks concern

A quarter of gay people surveyed in a major EU poll say they have been subjected to attacks or violent threats in the past five years.

homophobia in europePoorer and younger respondents were more likely to face discrimination due to their sexuality, the survey found.

The EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency surveyed 93,000 people in the EU and Croatia for what it calls the most comprehensive survey of its kind.

Friday marks the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The EU LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) Survey shows some worrying trends, says the BBC’s Anna Holligan in The Hague, where some 300 politicians and experts are gathering to discuss shaping new European Union policies to stamp out homophobia.

Unreported discrimination
FRA Director Morten Kjaerum said “big challenges” remained when it came to battling discrimination against LGBT people across the EU.

The online survey asked lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender respondents whether they had experienced discrimination, violence, verbal abuse or hate speech on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The survey found

Some 26% of respondents (and 35% of transgender respondents) said they had been attacked or threatened with violence in the past five years
Most of the hate attacks reported took place in public and were perpetrated by more than one person, with the attackers predominantly being male
More than half of those who said they had been attacked did not report the incident to the authorities, believing no action would be taken
Half of respondents said they had felt personally discriminated against in the year before the survey, although 90% did not report the discrimination
Some 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 or disguise their sexuality at school.
The FRA hopes the findings will help policy makers to better target their work in promoting the rights of LGBT people.

Spat at
Gay man John van Breugel, from the Netherlands, told the BBC he was shocked by the scale of the problem.

He himself, he said, had been subjected to homophobic abuse only twice in his life.

“First when I was in Germany with my boyfriend and a couple came up and called us ‘dirty gays’,” he said.

On the second occasion, he was in London when someone spat in his face as he went to the shops.

Seeing his attacker approach a gay night club, he told the bouncers what had happened, there was an altercation and the man was arrested, Mr van Breugel said.

“I came out as gay when I was 17,” he recalled. “My best friend never spoke to me again, but everyone else was very accepting – my family and friends were great. At my high school no bad words were said against me.”

He said the EU should do everything it could to tackle hate crime against gay people, including sanctions on countries that allowed homophobic attacks to happen.

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