Over half of Dutch gays feel less safe than they did a year ago, a new survey carried out by current affairs programme EenVandaag has revealed.

Sixty-four per cent of anti-gay incidents were verbal but 12 per cent resulted in physical abuse.

Amsterdam’s image in the Netherlands as the ‘gay capital of the world’ is also under threat as the survey revealed gays there were more fearful than in other parts of country.

A substantial increase in attacks in the capital has been reported over the last few years, leading two of the government coalition parties – Labour and the Christian Democrats – to call for tougher punishments for anti-gay violence.

Of the 23,000 people questioned, including 1,980 gays and lesbians, 61 per cent still maintained the Netherlands is a gay-friendly country.

The fact that 72 per cent of respondents claimed to be in favour of gay marriages seemed to bear this up.

Frank van Dalen, chairman of the gay rights group GOC, which collaborated with Een Vandaag to produce the survey, said he was shocked by the results.

“These figures make it clear that good information about homosexuality is vital in schools,” he said.