Though France took a huge step by legalizing marriage equality this weekend, a high number of Europeans still face anti-gay discrimination regularly, according to a new study.
A survey released Friday of more than 93,000 LGBT Europeans found nearly half had felt discriminated against in the previous year based on their sexual orientation. Two-thirds said they were afraid to hold hands with their same-sex partner in public, especially gay and bisexual men.
“A too great number of LGBT people across Europe are being barred from being themselves. Their ability to enjoy their basic human right of living with dignity, to enjoy life and express themselves freely without discrimination, is being denied,” EU Agency for Fundamental Rights Director Morten Kjaerum said during a speech announcing the findings.
According to the report, the countries with the largest proportion of respondents who felt discrimination based on sexual orientation in the past 12 months included Lithuania (61 percent), Croatia (60 percent), Poland (57 percent) and Cyprus (56 percent).
In some cases, the Huffington Post notes, this discrimination has manifested itself in violence documented by other recent studies:
The EU survey comes on the heels of the release of SOS Homophobie’s 2013 report of homophobia in France, which revealed a sharp increase in the number of anti-gay attacks in the country.
According to the annual report, 645 cases were reported to the French LGBT organization last year, compared to 249 reported cases in 2011, illustrating that the number of anti-gay assaults has more than doubled in France. However, almost half of the attacks occurred in the last three months, during the time gay marriage demonstrations began to heat up in Paris, SOS Homophobia President Elisabeth Ronzier indicated to Le Huffington Post.
This is really unfortunate and even frightening. Marriage equality is great and all, but it’s worthless if we’re not safe being ourselves on the street. We’ve got some work to do.