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Beating reveals 'the face of homophobia' in France
Photo of Wilfred de Bruijn, the victim of an apparent homophobic attack and the anti-gay marriage movement, which has been blamed for a rise in homophobia.

Beating reveals 'the face of homophobia' in France

Ben McPartland · 8 Apr 2013, 13:31

Published: 08 Apr 2013 13:31 GMT+02:00

This bruised and bloodied face belongs to Wilfred de Bruijn, the victim of an apparent anti-gay attack in Paris at the weekend, which according to him shows “the face of homophobia” in France.

According to de Bruijn, he was attacked with his boyfriend in the 19th arrondissement of Paris on Saturday night simply because they were gay. France’s gay rights groups say the savage beating comes as homophobic incidents are on the rise.

They blame the increasingly radical and stubborn anti-gay marriage movement.

Hours after being subjected to the beating, De Bruijn put the photo on his Facebook page. It has since been shared thousands of times across social media.

“Sorry to show you this,” the victim wrote. “It’s the face of homophobia. Last night 19th arrondissement, Paris, Olivier and I were badly beaten just for walking arm in arm.

“I woke up in an ambulance covered in blood, missing tooth and broken bones around the eye.

“I’m home now. Very sad.”

It is not certain whether the victim has lodged a complaint with police.

De Bruijn's Facebook page was bombarded with comments from outraged friends. "What a horrible experience, and a disgusting act of hate," one wrote.

The attack has provoked anger among France’s gay community at a time when the country’s Senate is debating the gay marriage bill.

President of gay-rights group SOS Homophobie, Elizabeth Ronzier is clear who is to blame.

“This was a shocking and incredibly violent incident,” Ronzier told The Local. “We have seen a thirty percent rise in the number of homophobic incidents since October. This is a result of the opposition towards the gay marriage bill.

“These people say they are not homophobic but they are. Homophobia has become trivialized, which is proved by the number of verbal assaults on gay people, which often to lead to physical assaults.

At the weekend, the annual Inter LGBT fair, held in the famous Marais district of the capital's fourth arrondissement was targeted by vandals, who are opposing gay-marriage.

Responsibility for the "homophobic attack" (see video) was claimed by “Le Printemps Francais” (French spring), a collective of dissidents who split from the mainstream “Manif pour Tous” anti-gay marriage movement led by French comic Frigide Barjot.

The group published a video of themselves engaging in the vandalism, but later deleted it, though not before a pro-gay marriage activist had been able to republish it (see below).

Le Printemps Français is believed to be made up mainly of hard line Catholics and royalists. Nicolas Gougain, head of Inter LGBT confirmed a complaint had been lodged with police, French daily Le Parisien reported.

“We need the Senate to pass this law quickly so we can finish with this debate,” said Ronzier. “The opposition are creating a lot of noise for nothing because they are not going to change anything.

Story continues below…

“The government needs to condemn this aggression against gay people.”

For their part, the “Manif pour Tous” denounced the act of vandalism as well as the attack against Wilfred de Bruijn, but denied their movement was responsible for provoking homophobic acts.

“Groups like SOS Homophobia should be ashamed for trying to blame us for these acts,” Xavier Bongibault, one of the movement’s leaders told The Local on Monday.

“We strongly condemn this act of violence but there is no link whatsoever to the Manif pour Tous. We have said since the beginning that we are not against homosexuals, we are simply against the government’s legislation,” said Bongibault, who himself is gay.

Gay-rights groups are set to hold a protest on Wednesday April 10th in response to the attack against De Bruijn. Representatives from the Manif pour Tous have expressed a desire to join the demonstrators. Whether they will be welcomed or not remains to be seen.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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