A gay man was brutally beaten by a group of homophobic thugs in France on Saturday (20 April).
Raphaël Leclerc, 24, was punched, kicked and jumped on by three men when he and his boyfriend left a club in the city of Nice.
Just like the victim then, Leclerc posted a picture of his face on Facebook to try and raise awareness of anti-gay attacks.
‘I left the nightclub with my boyfriend at around 5.35am on Saturday. We were not kissing and we were not holding hands,’ Leclerc said, as reported by The Local.
‘A couple of minutes later there were three, who were shouting “hey gays” at us, and then they ran at us.’
The aggressors asked the victim whether he was French or Chechen, and when he replied French he was attacked until he lost consciousness.
Jean-Marie Pottier, the Secretary General of the LGBT Centre for Côte d’Azur, said: ‘In this story, homophobia may not have been the origin of the violence but it played its part.’
According to gay rights groups, homophobic attacks have grown by 42% in France since 2009.
On MediaPart’s blog, Mathieu Brancourt said the attacks ‘is the result of a serious debate that has fuelled the hatred in most people’s minds.’
‘This new demonstration of brutal violence and freedom to discriminate against someone for who they are, is coming at the worst moment,’ he said.
Juris Lavrikovs, from International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in Europe, said what is happening in France is very ‘shocking’.
Speaking to France 24, he said: ‘France is one of the oldest democracies of Europe, and is a founding member of the European Union which is based on human rights for all.
‘To see what is happening at the moment is very shocking. It sends a very dangerous signal, and goes against the trends that are happening at the moment.’
On Sunday, some 45,000 people protested against gay marriage and adoption for same-sex couples. Over 15,000 gay rights activists, according to Act Up, counter-protested.
Tomorrow (23 April), the ‘Marriage for All’ bill is expected to be made legal.