According to Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, a 20-year-old Erasmus student from University College, London was the victim of homophobic insults before being robbed and beaten in the Northern Italian city of Bologna.
The student was sitting on a bench in Piazzetta San Giuseppe in the city when a group of men began to shout at him from a nearby car.
“I heard someone shouting, ‘Hey, are you a faggot?’” the student told the newspaper. He continued, “I pretended not to hear, but they were shouting: ‘So you’re a faggot? Why are you a faggot? Do you want fifty euros to get in the car?’”
The student attempted to diffuse the situation by walking away, but he was pursued by three men who got out of the car. The men proceeded to attack him in broad daylight in the centre of the Piazzetta, punching him and kicking him in the head in full view of passersby, with one of the attackers pushing their thumbs into his eyes.
“I screamed for help but no one listened to me,” he said. The attackers then stole the student’s backpack before leaving him injured on the ground.
Shocked not only by the attack but by the lack of aid he received from people in the packed square, the student continued requests for help were unsuccessful.
“I approached six or seven people before a girl gave me a hand,” he explained. The girl assisted him in calling the emergency services, but he was surprised to be told that if the attack had already taken place, the police could not intervene.
LGBT activists criticised the response of the Italian police to the attack. “This attack took place in a city that is historically considered ‘friendly’,” said Vincenzo Branà of Arcigay Bologna. “There are cameras around Piazzetta San Giuseppe, and now is a time for them to be put to proper use.
The Mayor Of Bologna, Virginia Merolo, apologised to the student, sending out a message of “support and the symbolic embrace of the whole city”. Stating that, unfortunately, no city is safe from homophobia, she continued, “We want to think of him not as a victim but as a fellow citizen”.
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