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This piece initially appeared on Out.com, read the original here.
Two gay men vacationing on the French island of Corsica were brutally attacked by group of up to 20 men while a large crowd gathered and watched but did nothing to stop the brutal assault.
The two men, identified only as Mickaël and Benoît, told the French-language gay publication Têtu via email they had gone out for a night on the town with Benoît’s brother, sister, and sister-in-law when they were confronted on the dance floor by a group of homophobic teens and young men who took exception to the coupled men dancing together.
"A group of young teenagers aged 15 to 20 laugh at us and insult us as queers," Mickaël told Têtu, adding one of the youths "shows me a picture of someone pissing on a rainbow flag. I stay very calm and tell him that I am gay myself. At that moment he takes out his cross and tells me that it 'is against nature.'"
The two men left the club to grab some fresh air, only to be followed by the hostile young men. One of the youths confronted the couple and called them queers.
"That’s when things went nuts," Mickaël said. "I had five punches before I got stuck between two cars with 10 guys on me. Luckily I didn’t pass out."
By then a large crowd had gathered to watch the horrific assault but did nothing to stop the beatings. According to the two men, the crowd treated the brutal and violent assault as a form of entertainment.
"They brought out the popcorn," Benoît added.
The assault only stopped after police, alerted by Benoît’s family, arrived and rescued the men. To add insult to injury, the two men added they were heckled and jeered with more calls of "queers" as they were taken by ambulance to a local hospital. The men were treated for broken noses, bruises, and bleeding, and received up to eight days of what is known as temporary work interruption (ITT).
The local prosecutor of Bastia released a statement, quoted by France TV Info, announcing they had opened an investigation into the attack.
"After watching the fireworks from the town, a group of five people, on holiday in Corsica, went to a Macinaggio Harbor bar to spend the evening there," the prosecutor said. "Around 12:30 a.m., two of the members of this group, as a couple, suffered homophobic insults and then violence with kicks and punches from several individuals, causing them total interruptions of work of six and eight days. A third person was injured."
This was the second homophobic assault in the past year on the island of Corsica located in the western Mediterranean. The birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte saw a similar crime last July when two gay men were brutally beaten after sharing a small kiss at a local bar in the capital city of Ajaccio, only to have police suggest the two men were responsible for the attack.
"Aren’t you guys ashamed to kiss here?" the police allegedly told one of the men, echoing the sentiments of the bar’s manager who said the two men "shouldn’t be kissing in public."
In Belgium, a gay man was killed after he was lured to a park via a gay dating app in March. His stabbed, beaten, and lifeless body was discovered the following morning and sent shockwaves through the local LGBTQ+ community. And earlier this week, police in England arrested two men for the brutal assault of a gay university student.
Government officials in Corsica made clear they would not stand for such hatred, While the locals who gathered to watch but not stop the attack may have viewed the assault as entertainment, the prefect of Haute-Corse expressed his disgust and anger, and promised accountability for the hateful and homophobic perpetrators.
"Such acts have no place in the Republic," the prefect of Haute-Corse in a statement quoted by France TV Info, calling the act "cowardly" and promising a full investigation.