- ‘Three men we had never seen before suddenly came up to us and attacked us.’
Swiss LGBT+ campaigners have criticized the police, saying they failed to take an attack on a gay couple seriously.
The attack has again put the spotlight on hate crime protections for the LGBT+ community. Campaigners have previously called on politicians to support a national action plan to tackle hate crime.
The incident happened three weeks ago in early October at the bare Joggeli-Lounge in the city of Basel in the north of Switzerland.
The couple, Erich Mynock and Thomas Mathis, say they were hoping for a carefree evening together in the bar.
After dancing for a while, they sat down at a table. Then three strangers suddenly attacked them.
Mathis said (translated): ‘Three men we had never seen before suddenly came up to us and attacked us. We wanted to help each other, but we didn’t have a chance and simply escaped as quickly as possible.’
The couple sustained injuries including a black eye, cut lip and scratches and bruises on the face, arms and chest.
‘We were even expected to do the work of the police!’
Moreover, the couple said they reported the attack straight away to police. However, officers failed to investigate.
Initially police only asked if the couple were ok, but didn’t take further action. They also went to the police station a few days later but drew a blank again.
Eventually they gave the police two medical certificates explaining their injuries and officers finally took a report.
But LGBT+ campaigners say: ‘Nevertheless, the police remained inactive and even asked the couple to ask about any video recordings and corona attendance lists themselves at the bar.’
Mathis adds: ‘I was speechless. We weren’t taken seriously as victims at all. We were even expected to do the work of the police!’
They turned to LGBT+ organization Pink Cross who found them a lawyer.
‘LGBTQ people are exposed to hateful attacks’
However, now the LGBT+ campaigners say the attack illustrates a wider problem.
In a statement, Pink Cross and its partners say:
‘The fact that the two gay men had such bad experiences with the police is also due to the inactive Basel government.’
The statement points out that campaigners have been asking for police to have a liaison officer to deal with LGBT+ victims. They have also called for awareness raising training for police.
Pink Cross says Swiss LGBT+ people face a local lottery on how law enforcement deals with them in the country’s various different cantons.
Some cantons – Switzerland’s states – have made progress. But it says Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Bern and Aargau have put the ‘protection of LGBTQ people on the back burner’.
Roman Heggli, managing director of Pink Cross, says:
‘The government has long had the political mandate to adopt measures against discrimination against LGBTQ people. Nothing has happened so far, in contrast to other cantons.
‘It has been known for years that LGBTQ people are exposed to hateful attacks and discrimination.
‘The majority of the population no longer wants to tolerate this, as the result of the vote in February 2020 showed. But the governments remain inactive, even if they have a parliamentary mandate.’
The vote he referred to in February saw Swiss voters back new anti-discrimination laws in a referendum. The new laws protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity.
Meanwhile in June, the National Council finally backed same-sex marriage equality. Further votes are needed to make it law.