One in four gay people in the European Union say they have faced violence because of their sexuality, according to a new report.
More than half of 93,000 people surveyed said they had experienced discrimination in the past year, while two-thirds said they were afraid of holding hands with same-sex partners in public.
The study, released yesterday to mark International Day Against Homophobia, came as thousands of people rallied against a gay pride march in Georgia, preventing the event from going ahead.
The protesters, who included Orthodox priests, managed to cut short the small gathering in Tbilisi attended by dozens of the state’s gay community. Some protesters threatened to whip attendees of the parade with stinging nettles. Sixteen people were reported to have been injured in clashes.
“If we need to allow parades like this in order to become a member of the European Union or other Western organisations and blocs, then I’m against joining these organisations,” one protester told Associated Press.
Georgia is not a member of the EU – although politicians have voiced support for a membership bid – and was not covered in the report released yesterday. But the survey by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights found that prejudice also plagued its 27 member states.
Respondents in Eastern European nations were more likely to say they had faced assault or harassment, with Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria faring particularly badly.
“It’s simply unacceptable that people, because of who they fall in love with, are afraid and live lives of fear,” said Ulrike Lunacek, an Austrian MEP.