In Belgium, police are investigating the murder of a 43-year-old man, identified only as David P, after his body was found by a cyclist at a park just outside the northern port of Antwerp, East Flanders in the early hours of Saturday morning. It is believed the man was lured through a gay dating app by three young men aged 16, 17 and 17, who then violently stabbed and beat him to death.

A close acquaintance of the victim told the Gazet van Antwerpen that the victim had had his life “very well” on track and that “There seemed to be no cloud in the sky.” He was openly gay, single, and worked as a crane operator.

Despite the three  alleged offenders currently being remanded in custody, because of the Belgian legal system- where by a juvenile judge presides over matters of juvenile offenders, only if the judge decides that the murder was premeditated, motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, or both will they be tried as adults by the criminal justice system.

Local police have said they are still in the early stages of their investigation of what some are claiming is the country’s first homophobic murder in 9 years, following the slaying of Moroccan Ihsane Jarfi in 2012. Yet despite this claim, a recent report by independent human rights institution Unia, has noted an increase of 38 percent in homophobic verbal and physical violence in Belgium in the same amount of years.

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Many Belgian politicians were quick to condemn the horrifying murder, including Europe’s first openly transgender minister and deputy prime minister for Belgian Federal Government Petra De Sutter who tweeted: “Disgust. Grief. Compassion. What drives people so far in their hatred that they kill a man just because he likes men. Let’s condemn this cowardly murder in the strongest possible terms. And get rid of homo- and transphobia completely, also here with us.”

The rainbow flag was raised outside the Belgian prime minister’s office on Tuesday. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a tweet: “In our country, there is no place for hatred. Love wins.”

 

Çavaria a Flemish advocacy group for LGBTQI individuals and communities closely involved in the monitoring police investigations into recent hate crimes, were also quick to voice their outrage, saying in a statement  “It is particularly poignant that this happened. Not only for those directly involved but for the entire LGBT+ community in Flanders.

“After all, a hate crime is an attack on an entire group of people, based on an identity characteristic of that group.” With Yves Aerts, general coordinator of Çavaria, adding “We offer our condolences to the family and friends of the victim.

“We hope they find support from each other in these difficult circumstances. We hope the whole LGBT+ community can find warmth and love from each other in these difficult times.”

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

 

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