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Homophobic Crime
on the Rise in Amsterdam

Homophobic Crime
on the Rise in Amsterdam

The University of Amsterdam presented a study on Thursday revealing a drastic increase in homophobic acts in the Dutch capital.

The study reported that 1,512 violent, discriminatory acts had been committed in the first half of 2008, 150 of them targeting gay people, mostly men. In almost 30% of the cases, physical violence was involved, while the remainder were mainly threats and vandalism.

According to some Dutch police officials, these numbers are not fully accurate because the victims of discrimination are less likely to testify and many aggressions thus go unreported, Agence France-Presse reports.

This wave of homophobic crime has significantly altered the reputation of the Netherlands as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world. For many years the country had been considered a sort of gay mecca, especially since 2001, when it became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.

The University of Amsterdam study provided a description of the typical homophobic attackers. It concluded that they're usually young men from 17 to 25 with little education who come from dysfunctional families, feel insecure about their masculinity, and are highly impressionable. As explained in the study, many attackers claimed to have no problems with gay people as long they do not approach them and remain "invisible," AFP reports.

Laurens Buijs, one of the study's researchers, revealed that 40% of the attacks were the result of men feeling that gay individuals were hitting on them, AFP reported.

The Dutch capital is planning on taking measures to counteract this nascent phenomenon. Authorities plan to fund a new prevention campaign and allow greater police visibility. Measures will also be implemented to encourage victims of homophobic acts to testify and increase awareness among the general public. (Thibault Chareton, The Advocate)

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