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France sees jump in violent homophobic attacks

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France sees jump in violent homophobic attacks
Photo: AFP
09:52 CEST+02:00
France has seen a rise in homophobic physical attacks for the second consecutive year, a new report reveals with a gay rights charity saying it shows prejudice against the LGBT community is becoming "anchored" in French society.
The new report doesn't make for happy reading. 
 
The number of physical attacks due to homophobia jumped from 121 in 2016 up to 139 in 2017, according to the annual report by French gay rights charity SOS Homophobie.
 
After several years of declining physical assaults, the figure jumped by 15 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to the report.
 
The victims are most often men (58 percent) and young people (56 percent of victims were under 35 -- when their age is known). 
 
In one high profile incident in 2016 a French student named Marin was left critically injured defending a gay couple who were kissing in the street in the French city of Lyon.
 
On 11 November 2016, Marin, then a third-year university student studying law and political science, came to the defence of a gay couple who were being attacked by a gang of youths after kissing at a bus stop.
 
Marin's alleged aggressor, a minor at the time of the incident, attacked him from behind, repeatedly clubbing him over the head with a crutch that left him with a coma.
 
Overall, SOS Homophobie collected 1,650 testimonials of homophobic acts, representing an overall increase of 4.8 percent on the figures from 2016 (1,575). 
 
The most frequently reported acts of homophobia were people openly showing their disapproval of homosexuality insults followed by discrimination, harassment and threats and blackmail.
 
In 2016 there had already been a sharp rise in the total number of acts on the previous year, with an increase of 19.5 percent, the organisation said. 
 
However the peak of homophobic activity in France was recorded in 2013 (3,517 testimonies) after gay marriage was legalized. 
   
Where is it happening?
 
The more accurate question would be: where isn't it happening?
 
The charity collected testimonials of homphobic acts taking places in work environments, around people's homes, among family, schools and shops.
 
The number of incidents occurring around people's homes has shot up by 84 percent and schools by 38 percent. 
 
In more than one out of two cases (55 percent), homophobia occurs "in the context of everyday life," said the study.
    
Among the testimonials collected by the charity, one came from a couple, Mickaël and Gabriel from Toulouse, whose neighbour said: "Hitler did his job badly, I'm going to throw a bottle of gas at your house and get you burned."
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