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International Day Against Homophobia Marked With Tolerance Pleas


Rights activists of the LGBT community hold a pink triangle, a symbol used in Nazi concentration camps to identify gays and lesbians, on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia in Tirana on May 17.
May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and the event is being marked across Europe with demonstrations and calls for tolerance.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued a statement reaffirming the European Union's "commitment to equality and nondiscrimination."

EU Justice and Fundamental Rights Commissioner Viviane Reding said homophobia and transphobia -- the fear of transgender people -- are "violations of human dignity."

In the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, thousands of antigay demonstrators led by Orthodox priests broke through police lines and attacked gay-rights demonstrators, who had to be evacuated by police.

In Russia's second city of St. Petersburg, a few dozen gay-rights activists held a rally under heavy police protection after organizers reported receiving death threats.

In a report released on May 17, the European Union's rights agency said sexual minorities face widespread intolerance and violence across EU countries.

The Vienna-based Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) said that a poll it conducted of more than 93,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the European Union and Croatia revealed that 47 percent felt they were discriminated against or harassed in the previous 12 months because of who they are.

The Netherlands was the country with the lowest rate of discrimination at 30 percent, while more than 60 percent of those polled in Croatia, Romania, and Lithuania felt disadvantaged in areas such as education, work, or health care.

The EU agency called for updating laws relating to housing and the service sector to take into account lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

With reporting by dpa and AFP
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