CW: Details of homophobic attack. The Belgian Prime Minister raised a rainbow flag outside his offices to mourn the horrific death of a gay man.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, near Antwerp, 42 year-old gay man David P, as named by Belgian media, was found dead. Police allege that teens lured the victim to a park before stabbing and beating him to death.
Police have arrested three teenagers, all minors, in connection with the murder. A 17 year-old boy from Antwerp and two boys from Beveren, aged 16 and 17, are being held in custody.
According to Belgian outlet De Standaard, one of the teens allegedly associates with an anti-LGBTQ+ group who use GBT+ apps to ambush and assault gay men. However, police have not confirmed a motive but are proceeding with investigating the murder as a hate crime.
The brutal murder of David P has sparked outrage across Belgium. In solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo flew a rainbow flag outside his office on Tuesday.
Speaking on the tragic death of the 42 year-old gay man, Belgian Prime Minister De Croo expressed, “If it turns out that that person has been trapped based on his sexuality, this would be unacceptable. This is all that we as a society have to revolt against. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim. Justice must now do its job. But let one thing be clear: we will never accept this violence in our country.”
In ons land is er geen plaats voor haat. Love wins. ?️?
Pas de place pour la haine dans notre pays. Love wins. ?️? pic.twitter.com/JTLXFtUktb
— Alexander De Croo (@alexanderdecroo) March 9, 2021
This attack reportedly marks the first hate crime to occur in Belgium within the past nine years. Since 2012, human rights groups have been speaking out against a steady rise in anti-LGBTQ+ verbal and physical violence, with a 2019 report from Unia showing a 38% rise in reported attacks against the LGBTQ+ community over the previous five years.
Founder of the support group LGBTQIA+ BE, Laurent James, told Out, “There is real national outrage. It’s now abundantly clear that even in a country like Belgium, where law protects LGBTQ+ individuals and provides them equality on paper, it still isn’t enough to protect us fully in the reality of our heteronormative society.”
James went on to add, “There seems to be a pretty big hurdle to actually report violence against LGBTQ+ people. Police forces, especially in big cities, don’t always take every case as seriously as they should. Even when police reports do get filed, unfortunately a lot of cases end up being dismissed in front of the courts for lack of evidence or because the perpetrator don’t get caught.”
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