Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pixabay
A gay British man says he was attacked with a hammer in a homophobic attack in Barcelona last week, which left him needing reconstructive surgery on his jaw.
William (not his real name) was in the Catalonian city on an extended trip when the assault took place and believes it was motivated by his sexuality.
Speaking to PinkNews, William, who asked for his name to be changed to protect his identity, said he had travelled to Barcelona from London for an extended trip.
“I really feared for my life”
The attack took place in the Eixample district (often referred to as Gaixample for the number of gay venues and businesses found there) outside the Axel hotel, which caters to the LGBTIQ+ community.
William says he laid down on a bench whilst waiting for a taxi to take him back to his accommodation when he felt what he describes as “an extremely strong punch” to his face. He says he could see two men standing over him, one with a hammer.
“There was a lot of blood coming out of my face and I could feel my mouth was destroyed,” William told PinkNews. "In that moment I really feared for my life and felt that it could be the end of it.”
William later found out his jaw had been shattered. He was able to scare the men away by screaming and was able to get help from the staff at the Axel hotel. Last Thursday (15 July) he had reconstructive surgery and spoke to police about the incident but says he’s disappointed with their response.
Catalonia’s police force, Mossos d’Esquadra, confirmed to PinkNews the attack is being investigated as a “violent robbery” and that no arrests have been made. As the men ran away they stole William’s bag.
William, however, is sure that it was a hate crime. “I was lying there in a very vulnerable position with my phone in my hands and all my belongings easily accessible. If they wanted to steal them, they would have done it easily.”
“They are more serious”
The incident comes just weeks after Spaniard Samuel Luiz was killed in a suspected homophobic attack in A Coruña, in northern Spain. His death sparked mass protests across the country. Three people were arrested in connection with his death.
The Spanish paper El País reports that in the latest figures from Spain’s Interior ministry, there was a 6.8% increase in hate crimes recorded by police in 2019.
Speaking to the paper Raúl González of the LGBT foundation, Triángulo Foundation has said: “The problem is not only that assaults are rising, it’s that they are more serious. This minority sector which is against us, around 5% to 10% of society, has been emboldened by [far-right political group] Vox.”
Vox has tried to make it harder for students to get access to extracurricular classes aimed at combatting LGBT discrimination.
The Attitude Body Issue is out now.