France: Gay couple beaten in Paris for walking arm in arm

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A gay couple were badly beaten in Paris on Saturday, in an incident which campaigners say is symptomatic of a 30% rise in homophobic attacks in France since debates on same-sex marriage began.

Wilfred de Bruijn said on Facebook that he and his boyfriend were attacked in Paris on Saturday night, and claimed they were targeted for walking arm in arm.

He posted a photograph hours after the incident, showing injuries including a missing tooth and skull fracture. It has since been circulated on social media by thousands of people.

“Sorry to show you this,” he 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.”

The President of gay rights group SOS Homophobie, Elizabeth Ronzier, told The Local: “This was a shocking and incredibly violent incident. We have seen a 30% rise in the number of homophobic incidents since October.

“This is a result of the opposition towards the gay marriage bill,” she added. “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.”

Anti-same sex marriage group Manif pour Tous, who have organised several large-scale protests in recent months, said Ms Ronzier’s comments were unfounded.

“Groups like SOS Homophobia should be ashamed for trying to blame us for these acts,” said Xavier Bongibault on behalf of Manif pour Tous.

“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.”

Manif pour Tous’ recent march attracted 300,000 protesters, some of whom were tear gassed after trying to break through police lines.

Last week the French Senate began debating proposed equal marriage legislation, while hundreds protested outside waving flags that read “Jobs, not gay marriage”.