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LGBT associations condemn rising homophobic attacks in Paris

Protests after homophobic attack in Paris
Protests after homophobic attack in Paris PASCAL PAVANI / AFP

LGBT groups gather Sunday in Paris to protest against a recent series of homophobic attacks in the French capital. Some 30 organisations have rallied round SOS Homophobia and Inter-LGBT, the event's organisers.

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The latest spur of violence took place on Wednesday against Guillaume Mélanie, head of NGO Urgence Homophobia, a charity that helps the LGBT community obtain asylum in France. 

Mélanie says he was punched in the face as he was coming out of a restaurant and told that he "should be burned".

He shared pictures of his injuries on social media, prompting reactions of support, including a message from Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.

More homophobic attacks being reported

According to latest figures provided by Paris police headquarters, homophobic attacks in the French capital are actually decreasing.

There were 20 fewer attacks so far this year as compared to 2017, according to official sources.

However, gay rights organisation SOS Homophobia recorded a 15 percent rise in physical attacks. The figure was based on the number of calls on their helpline.

"That could also be because people are more willing to speak out publicly" points out James Creedon, who presents Media Watch on France 24.

Paris has an established LGBT community and a reputation for being gay-friendly.

The city also hosts one of the most important Gay Pride events in Europe, and hosted the 10th Gay Games earlier this year.

Increasing awareness of homophobic attacks through social media has lead to calls for concrete action.

Clémence Zamora Cruz, spokesperson for Inter-LGBT, told RFI a global plan against LGBT phobia was needed, starting with educational programs in school.

She is also asking the government to take concrete action over attacks on the LGBT community, rather than spending its energy on issues such as medically assisted procreation for lesbian couples.

The LGBT community in France have acquired many rights over the last two decades, including the right to form civil unions and to marry.

However, resistance to these measures remains strong in France, as massive protests against gay marriage a few years ago showed.

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