Words: Alastair James; picture: John-Paul Kesseler was recently attacked in Birmingham (BBC)
Community leaders in Birmingham have said that “hate will not win” following a stream of homophobic attacks in the city.
In a joint statement, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, Birmingham’s mayor Andy Street and council leader Ian Ward said they were proud of the city's diversity and stood by the local LGBTQ community.
Police patrols are being stepped up around Birmingham’s LGBTQ village and money has been invested in supporting victims of hate crime.
“Everyone has a right to feel safe on our streets”
The three men said the recent attacks were "disgusting" and that people being assaulted “because of who they are or who they love is simply not acceptable.”
“But hate will not win and our message to the homophobes is that they do not represent Birmingham, and they never will," they added. "Everyone has a right to feel safe on our streets, no matter where they are, day or night."
Leaders are also working on improving CCTV and night-time safety in response to the attacks.
Full statement from PCC @SimonFoster4PCC, @MayorWestMids and @BrumLeader following recent homophobic attacks in the #Birmingham Gay Village.— WestMidsPCC (@WestMidsPCC) October 14, 2021
Hate and violence directed at LGBTQ+ people won't be tolerated in the city or the region. pic.twitter.com/Jls7vcPtiz
The most recent incident took place last weekend when a man was hit over the head with a glass bottle.
John-Paul Kesseler was walking home from a night out in Birmingham’s Gay Village Sunday morning while holding another man’s hand when he had a bottle thrown at him. It narrowly missed his eye.
He told the BBC a man had shouted at him “you should not be doing that” before throwing the bottle and then physically assaulted Kesseler with a pole before driving away.
Kesseler also said: “Everything seems to be turning on its head - people are more open with their hatred, people feel emboldened to act on their prejudices,” adding that he was told he was “asking for it” by other members of the public.
Vice News recently reported a 210% rise in LGBTQ hate crime in the UK over the last six years.