The alarming rise of attacks on LGBTQ+ people

Last Saturday the body of 42- year- old David P. was found in Beveren, Belgium. He was savagely attacked and murdered by three young men. The alleged motive of an LGBTQ+ hate crime, makes this the second case of gay bashing in Belgium. How safe are members of the LGBTQ+ community really in Europe? 

42- year- old David P. was an openly gay man who, supposedly, was meeting a Grindr date at a park in Beveren, Belgium. Grindr is a dating app specially designed for gay and queer men to match and chat. What David didn’t know, was that his date were actually three young men. Once the three young men lured David to the park, they savagely murdered him. The men most likely acted out of hatred towards homosexual men. Making this the second gay bashing resulting in murder in Belgium. The first time was in 2012, when four men killed Ihsane Jafri because he was gay. 

Hidden hatred

Although gay bashing isn’t prominently portrayed in the media, it is still a daily issue. According to the FBI, 1 in 5 hatred crimes in the US is motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias. According to UK police statistics, Brexit was related to a massive increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in England and Wales, which increased from 5,807 in 2015 to 13,530 in 2019. Belgium seems to have a decrease in registered hate crimes since 2018. This might look like good news, but isn’t entirely true. The decrease is an effect of reports not being ‘accurate enough’ to be seen as hate crimes. Therefore, Belgium is misrepresented.

Morals and beliefs

According to the annual Rainbow Map”, developed by ILGA-Europe, Poland is one of the worst European countries for LGBTQ+ people. The organisation works towards legal and social change for LGBTQ+ in Europe and Central Asia. Same-sex couples are unable to adopt legally and lesbian couples still do not have access to IVF. These are just a few of the examples. Discrimination is partially due to the majority of the Polish population being affiliated with the Catholic Church. Their moral doctrines heavily influence their perception on LGBTQ+ acceptance. 

Losing a friend

Many people across the world have lost friends or family members due to gay bashing. So has Wim Raes, Chairman of VZW TISZO and David’s friend. The organisation focuses on the protection of the LGBTQ+ community. “David was a very social and loving person. The news came as a terrible shock”, Wim says. “There is already a growing fear amongst LGBTQ+ members, especially amongst teenagers. It is important to be careful when you meet people you match with online. But in times like this, who can we blame? Everybody wants someone around and meeting new people isn’t very efficient. Still. It shouldn’t have happened.” 

In loving memory

On the day of David’s memorial, pride flags could be spotted all throughout Belgium. Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo proudly showed Twitter his pride flag. “There is no place for hate in our country. Love wins.”, tweeted De Croo. The suspected culprits have been arrested but have yet to be convicted. 

Text: Fleur Bijtebier, photograph: Joshua Mcknight