A gay British man had his jaw smashed with a hammer in an alleged homophobic attack in Barcelona, leaving him in need of surgery.
William, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, recently travelled from his home city of London to Barcelona for an extended trip – but his plans were left in tatters following the brutal assault.
The incident occurred at 2am on Monday morning (12 July). William had met a friend for dinner and they parted ways in the early hours.
He kept walking through Eixample, a district of Barcelona, before he stopped outside the Axel Hotel, a popular gay establishment in the city.
William lay down briefly on a concrete bench outside the hotel where he ordered a taxi to take him back to his own accommodation. He sent some texts to friends while he was waiting, using his backpack as a pillow.
Out of nowhere, William felt “an extremely strong punch” to the side of his face. He jumped up and turned around to see two middle aged men, one of whom was wielding a hammer.
As the men approached, William started crying for help.
“There was a lot of blood coming out of my face and I could feel my mouth was destroyed,” William told PinkNews.
“In that moment I really feared for my life and felt that it could be the end of it.”
William was hardly able to move his mouth – he would later learn that his jaw was shattered when the assailant smashed the hammer into his face – but he screamed for help as loud as he could.
His shouting scared the men away, William believes. They grabbed his backpack and fled the scene, leaving him “in shock, bleeding, still processing and trying to understand why” he had been targeted.
Victim thinks Barcelona thugs targeted him because of his sexuality
He subsequently went to the door of the Axel Hotel and signalled to the receptionist that he needed help. Local police eventually brought him to the hospital after an ambulance failed to show up.
William had reconstructive surgery on his jaw on Thursday (15 July) in a Barcelona hospital and he has filed a report with police over the incident.
However, he has been left disappointed by the response from law enforcement authorities in the region. A spokesperson for the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s police force, confirmed to PinkNews that the attack is being investigated as a “violent robbery” and that no arrests have been made – but William is adamant he was targeted because of his sexuality.
On Thursday, he told police in an email that the attack was driven by homophobia.
“Even if you look at this from the logical side of things, who approaches another person and the first thing you do is to smash a hammer in their face without them even knowing they were there?” William told PinkNews.
He can’t remember if the men used homophobic slurs during the attack – he was left in a state of shock after being struck with the hammer, meaning he was unable to process anything the men said.
“I want to make one thing clear, I have no doubts that I was a victim of a hate crime, a homophobic attack,” William said.
“They didn’t smash my face with a hammer because they wanted to rob me. They could have stolen whatever they wanted in many different ways without smashing my face with a hammer.
“I was lying there in a very vulnerable position with my phone in my hands and all my belongings easily accessible. If they wanted to steal them, they would have done it easily.”
William said he is “extremely frustrated” that the police are investigating the incident as a violent robbery rather than as a hate crime.
Despite the traumatising ordeal, William feels “lucky” to be alive – he is keenly aware that the assailants could have killed him.
He is speaking out about the shocking attack because he feels a duty to do so.
“This has to stop – starting from the police denying and turning a blind eye to all this. I’m not the only one – I’m sure hundreds of people every day everywhere suffer similar or even worse things than I just did.”
William’s ordeal comes after a spate of shocking homophobic incidents in Spain in recent months.
The country’s LGBT+ community took to the streets in protest following the death of Samuel Luiz, who died following a brutal beating at the hands of a dozen men on 3 July.
In May, the Observatory Against Homophobia (OCH) said five gay men had been injured in Barcelona in three separate homophobic incidents over the course of just a few days.
One of those attacks left a man in need of facial surgery after he and his friends were assaulted on a beach.