A quarter of gay people have been subjected to attacks or violent threats, EU poll says (VIDEO)

May 1, 2013 — Gay rights activists march in Russia's second city of St. Petersburg during their rally against a controversial law.
Olga Maltseva

BRUSSELS, Belgium — A quarter of gay people surveyed said they have been attacked or violently threatened in the past five years, an EU poll reported on Friday, the International Day Against Homophobia.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) surveyed 93,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the EU and Croatia for what is said to be the most comprehensive survey of its kind.

Among other things, the survey found that 26 percent of those who responded (35 percent of transgender respondents) said they had been attacked or threatened with violence in the past five years, and most of the attacks took place in public by more than one person. Most attackers were also found to be male.

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More than half of people who had been attacked did not report their attack to authorities because they said they believed nothing would be done about it.

Two-thirds of those who answered the online survey also said they had tried to hide or disguise their sexuality.

"Fear, isolation and discrimination are everyday phenomena for the LGBT community in Europe," Morten Kjaerum, director of the EU rights agency FRA, wrote in the report.

Despite advances in recent years, notably with several nations bolstering anti-discrimination laws and a growing number moving to legalize same-sex marriage, the survey shows a high level of homophobia and discrimination facing gays in Europe.

However the picture varies greatly from country to country. Less than 2 percent of gays in Denmark, Finland and the Czech Republic said they thought assaults or harassments were "very widespread" in their countries, compared to over 20 percent in Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.

In a separate report released Friday by the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Russia came bottom in a ranking on nations for gay rights, with top marks going to Britain, Norway and Belgium.

"In many countries, the fight is still for fundamental civil and political rights that most of us living in democratic societies take for granted. And it is particularly worrying that some of these countries are in the EU.”said Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board.

John van Breugel, of the Netherlands, who came out as gay at 17, told BBC News that he was shocked at the scale of the problem. He said he had only been subjected to homophobic abuse twice in his life.

"First when I was in Germany with my boyfriend and a couple came up and called us 'dirty gays'," said van Breugel.

The second time was in London when someone spat in his face as he went shopping.

Around 300 politicians and experts are meeting today to discuss creating new EU policies to eradicate homophobia.