Crowds attended a Paris protest to denounce assaults on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on Sunday (October 21) after a series of high-profile incidents which have rattled NGOs and worried politicians.
Actor and LGBTQ rights activist Guillaume Melanie was on his way home from dinner a stone’s throw from the city’s gay neighbourhood on Tuesday when a passer-by barged into his dinner companion.
When Melanie called him out for his lack of manners, a second man intervened, punching him in the face, breaking his nose and showering him with homophobic insults.
Despite being in a state of shock, Melanie took a picture of himself in the ambulance and posted it on Twitter.
“I didn’t steal anything, I didn’t insult anyone, I didn’t attack anyone. I’m just homosexual,” he told Reuters at the demonstration, his eye still bruised.
Melanie is one of a number of victims to have come forward in Paris in recent weeks with activists mobilising to condemn the attacks and the government vowing to do more.
Police figures actually show that homophobic assaults have dropped in the city with 74 incidents reported in the first nine months of 2018 as opposed to 118 in the same period in 2018 – a fall of 37 percent.
Jeremy Faledam of campaigning organisation SOS Homophobie said that although the issue was receiving more media attention, many victims were still unwilling to go to the police for fear of the response they’d receive.
SOS Homophobie is calling on the government to launch an anti-homophobia campaign and to offer training to policemen on how to deal with victims.
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NGOs are particularly anxious as parliament prepares to debate a possible law change that would allow lesbians access to fertility treatment currently only open to straight couples.
During the debate over gay marriage in 2012-13, SOS Homophobie said there was a 78 percent spike in homophobic attacks and Faledam said he feared a repeat.