Teenagers beat bisexual classmate before wrecking Pride flag in suspected hate crime

On the left: A teenager walked along a river carrying a Pride flag. On the right: The flag flows along the river

A bisexual teenager was brutally beaten by students who threw an LGBT+ Pride flag into a river on IDAHOBIT.

On Monday (17 May), which was the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), two high school students in West Flanders, Belgium, reportedly kicked and punched the victim.

One filmed the attack on his mobile phone, sharing the footage with his Instagram followers.

Footage seen by vrt NWS showed the boys lob anti-LGBT+ slurs at the victim before punching him in the head and kicking him in the stomach.

The victim, as well as the two suspects, are students at the GO! Atheneum Oudenaarde secondary school, which was close to where the incident took place.

A separate video taken after the altercation appears to show the suspects throwing an LGBT+ Pride flag into the river Scheldt, which runs through the country into France.

“Gay day,” one of the boys says in the footage, in Dutch. “What do you think?”

They had allegedly taken the flag from a court building in the Flemish Ardennes, where it had been hoisted to mark IDAHOBIT, prosecutors said.

The teens, 14 and 16, were shortly after apprehended and detained by local law enforcement. One of the suspects, who have not been named, allegedly assaulted the victim while the other filmed and uploaded it to social media.

As prosecutors launch an investigation to determine whether the incident was a homophobic hate crime, the pair were placed under house arrest on Wednesday (19 May) for two months.

While they have been released from detainment, they will have to perform 20 and 40 hours of community service respectively, a youth court in Oudenaarde ruled.

In a statement to NEWSWEP, representatives of GO! Atheneum Oudenaarde said: “Homophobia remains the cause of too many black or white thoughts.”

“This is why we invite the pupils to dress in black and white during the next three days [Wednesday, Thursday and Friday] as a sign of solidarity.”

The school’s general manager, Ciska Philips, condemned the attack. “Respect and equality are our core values, with us there is no place for LGBT+ hatred,” she said.

“Many of our schools yesterday set up campaigns to mark IDAHOBIT. Unfortunately, this incident proves that it remains necessary to commit to respect, equality, and tolerance.”