EU survey reveals many gays live in fear
17 May 2013
By MIKE CORDER
Netherlands Queen Maxima arrives for the opening of conference to mark the May 17 annual International Day Against Homophobia, in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday May 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- Across Europe, gay couples are scared of publicly engaging in even the most basic expression of their affection: Holding hands.
Released Friday, the largest ever EU survey of hate crime and discrimination targeting members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the 27-nation bloc and Croatia showed many of them live in fear and conceal their sexual identity.
Two-thirds of the 93,000 people who filled in the anonymous online questionnaire said they were afraid of holding hands in public with a same sex partner - the figure rose to 75 percent for gay and bisexual men.
Austrian European lawmaker Ulrike Lunacek, said she has seen improvements in attitudes since she came out as a lesbian 30 years ago, but wasn't surprised at the fear of holding hands. "I know myself. In some areas of some cities I maybe also wouldn't do it," she said. The survey, released on the International Day against Homophobia, is important, she said, because "for the first time, we see how much fear there is still around."
The results showed that more than 80 percent of the group are verbally abused or bullied at school, nearly one in five feel discriminated against when seeking work and a quarter of the people have been attacked or threatened in recent years.