EU slams Europe-wide gay discrimination

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals face widespread harassment, bullying and discrimination across Europe, according to an EU report released on Tuesday.

The EU Fundamental Rights Agency said that harassment and discrimination occur 'in all areas of social life,' from schools to the workplace to health-care centres.

Agency director Morten Kjaerum reported that the investigation found gays and lesbians continue to face assault and other physical attacks due to their sexual orientation, despite EU rules designed to guarantee equality in the 27-country bloc.

'These are alarming signals in an EU that prides itself on its principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination,' Mr Kjaerum observed.

The report said that gay pride events were being obstructed in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Romania.

Politicians and religious leaders in Italy, Hungary, Malta, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have also refused to improve gay rights.

The report, which compiled studies from across Europe, found that homophobic abuse is usually meted out by young men in groups and is persistent at work, in school or when trying to get medical care.

Mr Kjaerum appealed to EU member states to improve equality legislation, to better record hate crimes 'and to train police accordingly.'

The agency also recommended better awareness campaigns to promote diversity and fight discrimination.