Gang of 15 homophobes brutally attack gay man just for existing: ‘They asked me if I’m gay, then everything went black’

Israel is generally regarded as progressive for LGBT+ rights and a safe place to live for members of the community, but recent attacks have caused concern in the community.

Police in Israel are investigating a brutal homophobic attack against a gay man committed by “about 15” assailants.

Itiel Sinai, who lives in Rishon Letzion on the Israel coast, was on his way home from a bar with his friend when he was set upon by a large group.

He told told Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the anti-LGBT+ attack, saying: “I’m used to getting shouted and cursed at when I go places.

“I went out to the car, and about 15 people passed by us. They asked me if I’m gay, and from the moment I said yes, everything went black.

“Seven of them ran at me and beat me, punching and kicking, they knocked me down.”

Sinai added: “If the police hadn’t come, they also would have stabbed me, and they got into their cars and took off.”

The attackers gave Sinai bruises and damaged his friend’s car, smashing the mirrors and severely denting the rear door.

Sapir Kon, the friend who was present during the attack, posted photos of the damage on Facebook. She wrote: “Where have we reached?! 2021, so much hate, so much evil for what?!”

She implored her friends to “make noise online” to help bring the attackers to justice. She added: “Of course we reached out to the police and the police are involved but I still need your help – help me spread as far as possible so we can reach them.”

At the time of writing, the post has been shared nearly 750 times with many chiming in to condemn the attack, calling it “shocking” and “disgusting”.

The Aguda, the Israeli national LGBT+ task force, has reached out to Sinai to give him aid in the wake of the attack. The group previously reported a 27 per cent rise in homophobic hate crimes in 2020, with a total of 2,696 incidents last year compared to 2,125 in 2019.

Nurit Shein, chairwoman of the Aguda, previously told The Jerusalem Post: “We will not be erased from the public and governmental space and we will continue to protect the personal security of us all for a stronger, tolerant, just and inclusive society.”

Israel’s penal code has explicitly prohibited hate crime based on sexual orientation since 2004.

However, many fear “a step backwards” for LGBT+ rights after the recent legislative election, which resulted in six anti-LGBT+ members of the far-right Religious Zionism alliance being sworn into the Knesset, Israel’s national legislature.