Cartoonist Mauro Padovani (46), and his husband Tom Freeman (59) were the victims of a homophobic attack on Monday morning by two neighbours.
They were left bleeding on the ground and Mauro said he shared the photo (above) as he wants justice done.
“They spat in our face. They insulted us. And then they started beating us with a steering lock. On the head, on the back, on the legs. Everywhere. And all this just because we are gay. I love Belgium. We got married here. But now I do not feel safe anymore. ”
Mauro moved to Belgium for love five years ago and initially they were welcomed into the neighbourhood. This was until a couple moved in, when Mauro and Freeman introduced themselves to these new neighbours, they immediately told the couple that they hated gay people.
Since then they have lived in fear and experienced a number of attacks.
“They once threw bricks at us. When they saw us, they always screamed at us. We turned to the police several times. But they never listened to us. ”
The pair were getting into their car to travel to a friends house to celebrate Tom’s birthday when the homophobic neighbours approached the car and spat on the glass.
“My husband has come down. He tried to calm him. And that in response he punched him in the face. I took the steering lock. But the boy snatched it from my hands and started hitting us,” Mauro tells Corriere.
They have been left with a number of serious injuries: Tom has two broken vertebrae and Mauro suffered a concussion, but the thing that has hurt Mauro so much was to see his husband, who has Alzheimer’s, on the ground in tears.
“I met Tom online 12 years ago,” says Padovani. “We fell in love right away. In the beginning, it was a story from a distance. Then, five years ago we got married and I left Liguria for Flanders. There was not a happier moment in my life. A year later my husband got sick. He has Alzheimer’s. And it’s the thing that hurt me most, Monday. See him on the ground in tears. To beat a person like him is like beating a child. “
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