Another week and another prove that anti LGBTQIA+ attacks rise up in Belgium. In the same week, Riadh Bahri, a national TV channel (VRT) journalist has reported a homophobic assault in Brussels and lgbtphobic stickers have appeared in the streets of Antwerp and Ghent.
This Friday, September 10, Riadh Bahri, reported on Twitter that he had suffered a homophobic attack in Brussels while walking his dog. Answering to a man who asked him for directions, he explained that he then received a few punches and kicks, before the attacker tore his chain from his neck and told him “dirty fagot”. If his wounds are superficial, the man said he was very shaken, upset and above all very sad by this new manifestation of a daily homophobia that the country is struggling to contain.
Riadh Bahri filed a complaint for homophobic assault and theft with violence, said the spokesperson for the Brussels police. The police have started a neighborhood investigation and must also use the video surveillance images. At the station, the gay journalist said: “The police were so nice that I go out with a slight smile”. Belgian Minister of Interior, Annelies Verlinden also assured him support via Twitter: “Incomprehensible. Unacceptable. Take care of yourself, Riadh. And never stop believing in yourself “.
This weekend, the police received reports about the appearance in the streets of Antwerp and Ghent of lgbtphobic stickers. You can see the rainbow flag crossed out with the words “simply normal” in Flemish. These anti queer propaganda stickers remind us of those that were distributed in 2019 by the conservative Polish newspaper Gazeta Polska. Author and LGBTQIA+ activist Fleur Pierets reported this on Instagram : “In Poland, self-proclaimed “LGBT-free zones” are legitimized by the government of Andrzej Duda despite the warning from the European Union that it could lose funding. I know that a lot of people will dismiss this as ‘one of those things’, however I have the feeling that lately we have to deal with a lot more hate than usual, and a friend even texted me saying that the verbal anti-gay bashing has increased rapidly over the past few weeks.”
De Morgen newspaper reported that a woman arriving at her home in Ghent on Saturday evening, overheard three students discussing whether they had any stickers with them to stick over her window because a rainbow flag hangs from that window. “Do you think that’s normal, that flag?” the group leader asked. “Janetten (a pejorative term about gay men) ensure that fewer white babies are born, that is not normal. And they are all pedophiles.”
The Diversity Cell of the Antwerp Police has picked up her post and is working on it. They actively search for the origin of the hate stickers and mentioned an email address to report them. We contacted Brussels city equal chances department to know the procedure if this would happen in Brussels. If anyone needs to report discriminating acts like this, they can push on the LGBTQIA+ contact button on the homepage of Polbru’s website. Author and artist Liz is More also created a response in the form of a sticker saying : “simply be kind to everyone”.
Because lgbtphobia is not an opinion but an infraction, we ask to the government to continue educating about equality and inclusivity. We can see that a part of the public opinion in Belgium is not following our country’s prominent position in favor of LGBTQIA+ rights. We need to continue educating people in schools, in the media, in daily life, everywhere so that it could come to an end.
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