LGBTI rights groups have spoken out about a spike in homophobic attacks in France.
Across France, complaints of homophobic attacks have increased by 15% since the beginning of 2018, FRANCE 24 reports.
A number of French LGBTI rights activists also believe that the number of people to experience homophobic attacks or abuse is widely underreported.
‘This is just the tip of the iceberg,’ said the spokesperson for rights group Inter-LGBT, Clémence Zamora-Cruz.
‘On the ground, many attacks go unreported. Often, victims don’t complain for fear of reprisals, or because they’re afraid of speaking to police officers who aren’t aware of issues relating to LGBT identity. They’re scared of not being listened to.’
However, during the same period, there has been an 11.7 decrease in reported attacks on the LGBTI community in Paris.
A homophobic assault ‘every three days’
LGBTI rights group, Stop Homophobie, said they had received ‘8,000 complaints in 2017 and then another 9,400 since the start of 2018, even though – of course – we haven’t finished the year yet’.
According to a recent report by a separate French LGBTI rights group, SOS Homophobie, only 4% of people who experience anti-LGBT insults in France go onto file a complaint.
Based on data collected by the group, a homophobic assault takes place in France every three days.
Zamora-Cruz says the uptick in violence and abuse directed towards the LGBTI community is largely due to the current political climate.
‘Fuelled by debates on particular issues of LGBT rights – such as the question of giving medically assisted reproductive rights to single and lesbian women – hate speech against the LGBT community has become unbridled,’ Zamora-Cruz said.
Attacks on the streets of Paris
Last month saw three homophobic attacks on the streets of Paris in under a month.
On 17 October, the president of Urgence Homophobie, Guillaume Mélanie, suffered a broken nose in a homophobic attack on the streets of Paris.
Mélanie shared photos of his bloodied face on Facebook, writing: ‘Tonight is my turn. Homophobic assault on the way out of a restaurant. Broken nose. Shocked. Blood everywhere. I’m a homosexual, and we’re in 2018.’
Only days before Mélanie’s assault, a gay couple were also attacked in a case which police confirmed had been motivated by homophobia.
In mid-September, comedian Arnaud Gagnoud was attacked after he hugged a male friend outside a theatre. Gagnoud also posted a photo of his injuries online.
Following his assault, Mélanie called on lawmakers to take action against homophobic violence. ‘We really need justice, we need the Minister of Justice, we have to investigate our complaints, and as long as there is this feeling of impunity, we will get smashed,’ he said.