‘Don’t feel safe’: Spate of homophobic attacks rocks UK city’s Gay Village

birmingham gay hate attack
Image: Twitter

LGBTIQ leaders in UK city Birmingham say a recent spate of homophobic attacks in their Gay Village have appalled and frightened the community.

On Sunday, an attacker threw a wine bottle at a gay man’s head after a night in the city’s Gay Village.

John-Paul Kesseler (above) said the man attacked him with the bottle and then a pole because he was holding hands with another man.

But sadly the victim said he wasn’t shocked by the violence as it’s one of a string of homophobic attacks in the city recently.

In September, a gay man named Matt Brooks was rushed to hospital after he was punched in the face in the Gay Village.

The punch left Brooks with a fractured eye socket. The man had to undergo emergency surgery to stop him from going blind.

In August, a group of men attacked and abused a gay couple outside a bar in the Village.

The perpetrators hurled homophobic abuse at the men and attacked them with bottles.

The two men suffered lacerations and cuts and one was knocked unconscious by the violence.

‘People are feeling anxious about going out’

Charity Birmingham LGBT’s director Steph Keeble said the spate of attacks had left the community both appalled and anxious.

“The community is feeling anxious. We’re trying to reassure and encourage them to come forward if they need support,” Keeble told PinkNews.

“People are going to start feeling anxious about going out. That’s just not acceptable that people can’t walk the streets and feel safe.”

Historically, Birmingham had “felt very safe”, Keeble explained. However, the recent victims’ photos of their injuries horrified the community.

“We stand in solidarity with [Kesseler]. Anybody who saw that would be absolutely appalled that anybody could do that,” she said.

“But sadly we live in a world where we’re still at risk just because of our sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I think that’s what it brings home for people.”

Rise in homophobic hate crimes is ‘very concerning’

Steph Keeble said her charity is “very concerned” by stats showing rising rates of hate crime across the UK.

“We’ve been encouraging everybody to report anything that happens, which could account for some of the increase,” she said.

“But the actual incidents in [Birmingham] – I haven’t known of something like that for a very long time.

“The Gay Village is somewhere where people should feel safe. Not somewhere where people should be attacked and assaulted.”

Keeble said police are taking last weekend’s assault “very seriously” and she hopes to see an arrest.

“That’s what we want… a message sent out by the criminal justice system that this isn’t acceptable.”

Birmingham authorities vow ‘hate will not win’

Local Police Commissioner Simon Foster, Mayor Andy Street and Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward recently addressed the spate of violence in a joint pledge.

They said the “abhorrent and vicious” violence “disgusts the three of us” and vowed “hate will not win”.

“For someone to be assaulted because of who they are or who they love is simply not acceptable,” they said.

“But hate will not win and our message to the homophobes is that they do not represent Birmingham, and they never will.

“Everyone has a right to feel safe on our streets, no matter where they are, day or night.”

They explained West Midlands Police had increased patrols in and around Birmingham’s Gay Village.

Authorities are also working to improve night-time safety in the area. Measures include more CCTV, more public transport and training for local businesses, they said.

“We all feel an unwavering duty to stand together, to root out these crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice,” they said.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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