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New campaign against homophobia in Vienna

A new campaign against homophobia is to be launched in Vienna.

The campaign by the Christian gay support group "Courage" will see 3,000 posters bearing the slogan "Liebe verdient Respekt" (Love deserves Respect) and showing gay, lesbian and heterosexual couples kissing hung in schools, youth facilities, underground stations and other public advertisement spaces.

The slogan will be translated into the Serb, Croatian, Bosnian and Turkish languages in an effort to reach out to the migrant community.

Courage chairman Johannes Wahala said yesterday (Thurs) the purpose of the campaign, which would last until the end of the year, was to diminish irrational fear of gays and lesbians. He said there had been an increase in physical and verbal attacks on gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

Wahala added that homosexuals of all kinds had a suicide rate seven times higher than the Austrian average. Young people aged 15 to 17 were especially vulnerable, Wahala said, since they were frequently subject to "outing."

Homosexuals in that age group accounted for 90 per cent of all homosexual suicide attempts, he said.

That was the reason, Wahala explained, why the posters would be directed mainly at young people.

Wahala said the city government had contributed 2,000 Euros of the 3,200 Euros cost of putting up the posters.

But observers have predicted the campaign will anger the Vienna branch of the right-wing Freedom Party (FP), which wants "self-glorifying depictions of homosexuality in childrens books" banned.

The Vienna FP has also called for a law forbidding dissemination of "exhortative information about homosexuality among minors" in an effort to "protect our children from sexual exploitation."

The Vienna Greens have meanwhile attached the FP֒s calls. The Greens have called them "irresponsible" and claimed the FP is contributing to the high rate of suicide among young homosexuals and that the FP is only trying to foment anxiety and hatred.

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