Gay Couple Beaten in Paris Attack

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Tuesday April 9, 2013

As the country's Senate continues to debate marriage equality and gay adoption amid large marches both for and against them, a disturbing report has surfaced regarding two men who claim they were assaulted in Paris.

The Local, an English-language French news website, reported the incident. Wilfred de Bruijn and his partner Olivier say several men attacked them in the 19th district of Paris on Saturday night, Apr. 6 in what the men say was a clear gay bashing. After the attack, De Brujin posted a picture of his face on Facebook and captioned it the "face of homophobia."

"Olivier and I were badly beaten up just for walking arm in arm," he wrote. "I woke up in an ambulance covered in blood, missing a tooth and broken bones around the eye. I'm home now. Very sad. Olivier takes care of me. Forbidden to work for at least 10 days."

Soon after the posting, de Brujin's Facebook page was flooded with supportive comments. "What a horrible experience, and a disgusting act of hate," one friend wrote.

France's LGBT community reacted with anger. "This was a shocking and incredibly violent incident," Elizabeth Ronzier, head of gay rights group SOS Homophobie, told The Local. "We have seen a 30 percent rise in the number of homophobic incidents since October. This is a result of the opposition towards the gay marriage bill. These people say they are not homophobic but they are. Homophobia has become trivialized, which is proved by the number of verbal assaults on gay people, which often to lead to phaysical assaults."

Last Thursday, the Associated Press reported on the debate in France's upper house of Parliament on the bill that would legalize gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt children. The debate will last until Apr. 13. Backed strongly by French President Francois Hollande, it seems that France could very likely legalize gay marriage. But there remains a large and vocal opposition that have flooded Paris' streets in protest in recent weeks.

As reported by Gay Star News, Mathieu Brancourt on his blog called the attack "the result of a serious debate that has fueled the hatred in most people's minds.

"Homophobia," he added, "is not new and does not stop at the likely enactment of the law opening marriage and adoption to same-sex couples. But this new demonstration of brutal violence and freedom to discriminate against someone for who they are, is coming at the worst moment."

"We need the Senate to pass this law quickly so we can finish with this debate," Ronzier said. "The opposition are creating a lot of noise for nothing because they are not going to change anything. The government needs to condemn this aggression against gay people."

In an interview with French news website Yagg, Olivier said, "With pain medication, it does not hurt physically. But the marks of blows hurt far deeper. At home, Wilfred prefers to not look in the mirrors."

As Gay Star News reported, a government spokesman spoke out on the recent rise of homophobia in France: "The hatred and homophobic remarks have no place in our country and are punishable by law. The government strongly condemns these acts. These outbursts are unacceptable. When the most basic civil rights of our citizens are attacked, the authority of the state is at stake."