• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French PM suggests naked breasts represent France
A statue of Marianne at the Place de la Republique in Paris, with her left breast on show. Photo: AFP

Just as the burqini ban furore was dying down French PM Manuel Valls has stirred things up again for suggesting naked breasts were a stronger symbol of the Republic than a Muslim headscarf.

Macron quits government before likely bid for Elysée
President Hollande, left, and Emmanuel Macron. Photo: AFP

France's rebel Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron stepped down on Tuesday as he looks set to concentrate on replacing his boss as president of France.

What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
Competitors in the colourful Marathon du Medoc. Photo: AFP

Summer's not over just yet.

French police officer stabbed by knifeman in Toulouse
Photo: AFP

Attacker, believed to have mental health problems, targeted police officer "because he represented France", unconfirmed reports say.

French parents told to cover naked 18-month old at beach
People enjoying the sun at the Villeneuve-de-la-Raho lake near Perpignan. File photo: AFP

An 18-month-old boy cannot bathe naked, at least according to authorities in southern France.

Every fact you need to know about France's 'départements'
Photo: AFP

So what's the most populated "département" if it's not Paris? Find the answer, as well as every other need to know fact about France's 101 departments.

Brexit: You've got till 2019 Hollande warns UK
Photo: AFP

For the sake of everyone the divorce needs to happen as soon as possible, says Hollande.

UN says French burqini bans 'humiliating and degrading'
Photo: AFP

... and says the ban had fuelled religious intolerance in France.

Opinion - French schools
Ten ways France must fix its 'failing' school system
What must France do to fix its school system? Photo: AFP

Longstanding issues in French school system have not been dealt with, argues journalist and author Peter Gumbel.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Politics
Emmanuel Macron: The whizzkid who could shake up French politics
Education
French schools to ramp up security with 'mock attacks'
Features
Where to go in France to find the best ice cream
National
Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Society
Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
Society
Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Déja vu? Familiar faces in France's presidential race
National
Meet the man paying off burqini fines in France
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
2,750
jobs available