A 25-year-old was brutally beaten in a homophobic attack in Belgium after he gave his boyfriend a goodbye kiss.
According to the outlet, he had just kissed his boyfriend before he got off a bus when he was attacked by a man in his 40s.
The attacker reportedly punched the gay man in the face and spat on him before fleeing the scene.
The victim was hospitalised and received stitches as a result of the attack, the Brussels Times reported. A complaint about the incident was filed with the police.
A spokesperson for the Brussels Capital-Ixelles police zone told the outlet it had been in contact with Unia – an independent public institution that fights discrimination and promotes equal opportunities in Belgium – because of the “homophobic nature of the events”.
Unia confirmed earlier this week that it was following up on the attack.
Patrick Charlier, co-director of Unia, said reports of discrimination related to sexual orientation made up just 4.3 per cent of those it receives, but that those incidents are often more violent.
“This character of physical violence appears to be important,” Charlier told the Brussels Times. “Proportionally, members of the LGBTQ community are more often victims of violent comments and acts rather than of discrimination (on the housing or job market, for example), which reflects a sociological reality.”
He explained there is “a fairly high degree of social acceptance” for LGBT+ equality in Belgium. But there is a “more visceral than intellectual” reaction when bigots “are confronted with homosexuality”, such as when same-sex male couples hold hands or “when women kiss”.
“The aggressors feel insecure because it disturbs the gendered representations that have been acquired globally in society, and they react with violence because they can’t stand it,” Charlier said.
Earlier this year, the country was left reeling after its first homophobic murder in nine years.
Three youths aged between 16 and 17 were arrested on suspicion of his murder.
In the wake of the horrific murder, Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo defiantly flew the LGBT+ Pride flag from his official residence in support of the country’s queer community.
“In our country, there is no place for hatred. Love wins,” De Croo said in a tweet alongside a video of the rainbow flag billowing outside the official seat of the federal government.
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