A Tunisian LGBT activist who lives as a political refugee in Paris was brutally assaulted in an alleged homophobic attack requiring hospitalisation.
The attack took place on Thursday evening last week in the 11th district of Paris and saw Nidhal Belarbi insulted by four people who shouted homophobic slurs at him before becoming violent and beating him, Le Parisien reports.
The attack resulted in several injuries for Belarbi, including severe bruising to the ribs and neck that require him to wear a neck brace.
The LGBT association Comité IDAHO released a statement after the attack claiming that Belarbi had been recognised by one man while on the street and that the attacker than brought three more people before assaulting him.
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Belarbi was taken care of by firefighters after the attack but one of the men returned to the scene and tried to break into the firefighters’ vehicle.
“Nidhal immediately became frightened. He said, ‘It’s him, I recognize him.’ It was his attacker who came back to ‘finish the job’. The firefighter had to push and lock the door,” explained Louis-Georges Tin, Chair of Comité IDAHO.
Belarbi fled to France as an asylum seeker in 2017 after being convicted and imprisoned for homosexuality in Tunisia. Since 2015, he and his organisation Shams have advocated for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in his home country.
Comité IDAHO claimed that one of the attackers was a bouncer at a bar and called on the City of Paris to suspend the bar’s licence until the men involved were fired.
The assault comes only weeks after two homosexual men were beaten and hospitalised in Lyon by a mob of around 20 people who also insulted them before carrying out the attack.
In 2018, France saw a record high number of homophobic attacks, up 66 per cent from the previous year.
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