April 06, 2009

Homophobia Damages Lives

Yes, that headline might seem like it came directly from the University of Duh!, but unfortunately there are many who would disagree. Hence, the need for studies like this one in the European Union.

Homophobia is damaging people's health and careers across Europe and the problem may be worse than reported because victims are scared to draw attention to themselves for fear of a backlash, an EU study said.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights said police in most countries were incapable of dealing with homophobic crime -- ranging from verbal abuse to deadly attacks --
and said many governments and schools failed to take it seriously enough.

This creates a vicious circle, with victims preferring to remain "invisible" rather than being open about their sexual orientation or reporting abuse to authorities, the study showed.

The report, which brought together research from 27 countries, said over half of EU citizens thought discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was widespread in their country.

Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Romania were singled out for being hostile towards "gay pride" rallies and people from countries in the region were generally less comfortable with having a homosexual as a neighbour, for example.

Only three EU states -- Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain -- gave full marriage rights to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transsexuals and transgender people, while most of the other countries do not award any rights at all.

In the Netherlands 82 percent were in favour of same-sex marriage versus 11 percent in Romania and 12 percent in Latvia.

Just like in the United States, our European GLBT friends (in most nations) still have a long road ahead to reach equality.

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