Rise in homophobic attacks mark passage of French gay marriage law


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The Independent Online

The French Senate voted today to legalise same-sex marriage in France, putting a landmark bill on track to become law by summer.

The vote in the upper house of Parliament – led by President François Hollande’s Socialists – comes despite boisterous protests and follows a wave of homophobic attacks in France.

A gay Dutch man who was viciously beaten up on a street in Paris has become the most visible symbol of the latter.

An image of Wilfred de Bruijn’s battered face went viral this week under the headline “This is the true face of homophobia” and was used on banners at a pro-gay demonstration in Paris.

Mr de Bruijn was punched and kicked unconscious near his home in northern Paris in the early hours of Sunday. His skull was fractured in five places and he lost a tooth.

Gay campaigners say such attacks have tripled since a law legalising same-sex marriage began its  passage through parliament five months ago. The text will go back  to the lower house next week for  a final vote, which should be a formality.

Demonstrations against the law, although mostly peaceful, have increased in verbal intensity in recent weeks. Gay campaigners and Mr de Bruijn say the tone of the protests has shifted from anti-gay-marriage to anti-gay – generating a wave  of attacks.

Mr de Bruijn said: “The [anti-gay-marriage campaigners] know very well what can happen if you repeat, repeat, repeat that these people are lower human beings. Of course, it will have a result.”

Interior Minister Manuel Valls called Mr de Bruijn personally to express his outrage at the attack.