Photo via Wilfred de Bruijn. A man in Paris, France was reportedly beaten for walking arm in arm with his boyfriend Olivier early Sunday morning. Wilfred de Bruijn, a French resident, says he was assaulted while walking in Paris’ 19th arrondissement. He says he sustained several injuries, including a missing tooth, broken bones, and fractured pieces of bone in his skull. He posted a photo of his wounds on his Facebook page with the caption “Sorry to show you this. It’s the face of homophobia”.
‘This is the true face of homophobia': Gay man viciously beaten in Paris posts picture of his injuries to Facebook in protest move that has now gone viral
Image of Wilfred de Bruijn’s face taken after he was kicked unconscious
Left with five fractures in his head and face, deep cuts and a lost tooth
Has been shared nearly 8,000 times since it was posted online
By Amanda Williams PUBLISHED: 08:18, 11 April 2013 |
A shocking photograph of the bruised and battered face of the victim of a homophobic attack in Paris has gone viral after he shared it online.
This photo was taken of Wilfred de Bruijn’s cut and bloodied face shortly after he was kicked unconscious by unknown assailants in the city on Sunday, leaving him with five fractures in his head, deep cuts and a lost tooth.
Posted on Facebook under the simple headline ‘This is the true face of homophobia’ the image has been shared nearly 8,000 times since.
Mr de Bruin says the attack took place in the mainly Muslim 19th arrondissement of Paris as he was walking arm in arm with his boyfriend.
Now he is using the picture to fuel a growing protest for equality, as a divisive reform bill to allow same-sex marriage in France drives a spate of homophobic attacks.
It was brandished by gay groups during a demonstration of several thousand people as they claimed that homophobic acts have tripled nationwide over opposition to a law legalising gay marriage.
De Bruijn, a Dutchman resident in Paris for a decade, told France Inter radio on Wednesday that he had ‘no doubt’ that an assault on him and his boyfriend, who was punched in the face as they walked together, was a homophobic attack.
The 19th arrondissement of Paris has a large Muslim and North African immigrant population, who live adjacent to Orthodox jews, but it is not known who is behind the attack.
The area was also the location of some of the worst scenes of unrest during the city’s riots in 2005.
Gay rights issues have divided France in recent months as President Francois Hollande has pushed through a bill to legalise gay marriage despite angry street protests.
The law, backed by two in three people in surveys, is set to pass without major hitches in a parliament where Hollande’s Socialists have a majority.
Yet a passionate debate, particularly on whether same-sex couples should have parenting rights, has triggered a surge in verbal and physical attacks on the gay community, according to records kept by the campaign group SOS Homophobie.
The group has recorded more than 60 reports of homophobic attacks, two to three times higher than normal, in the past week as the bill makes its final passage through the Senate.
‘It feels like the most violent time in our history,’ said Michael Bouvard, vice-president of SOS Homophobie.
The incident has shocked France, and garnered support far and wide as a gay ’cause celebre.’
On Tuesday night, Interior Minister Manuel Valls called De Bruijn personally to express his shock.
‘I certainly feel there’s been an increase in homophobia,’ said De Bruijn from his apartment in Paris’ working class 19th district, where the attack took place.
‘What (the anti-gay marriage campaign) are saying is that they’re not homophobic: lesbians and gays are nice people, but don’t let them get close to children – that’s very dangerous. It’s OK for them to live together, but not like other couples with the same protection because it’s not really the same thing.’
‘These people are all professionals of the spoken word. They know very well what can happen if you repeat, repeat, repeat that these people are lower human beings. Of course it will have a result.’
In light of the attack – which has forced members of the anti-gay marriage campaign to defend themselves – 30 gay associations organized the anti-homophobia rally for Wednesday.
Associations SOS Homophobia and Refuge have used De Bruijn’s case to highlight the spike they’ve recorded in homophobia since the gay marriage bill was announced last year.
De Bruijn, a Dutchman resident in Paris for a decade said he had ‘no doubt’ that an assault on him and his boyfriend, who was punched in the face as they walked arm-in-arm, was a homophobic attack
Both associations report that homophobic acts – verbal and physical – in the first three months of 2013 have tripled compared with the same period in 2012.
Meanwhile, Frigide Barjot, the stage name of an activist who has led protests against the bill, insisted the anti-gay marriage movement is opposed to violence.
Speaking on RMC radio Wednesday, Barjot was careful to distance herself from a rightwing movement called the ‘French Spring,’ whose name was supposedly inspired by the revolutionary values of 2011’s ‘Arab Spring.’
‘We don’t want violence. We denounce this violence and these acts, we have nothing to do with (Catholic) fundamentalists or extremists,’ she said.
However, De Bruijn, said: ‘It was not Frigide Barjot who was hitting my head, or the bishop of Avignon lurking in that street to attack us.
‘But they are responsible.’