A gay couple in southwestern France was beaten up during Carnival in what they say was a bias-motivated crime after they stood up to a man who was harassing women.
The couple, who has only been identified as Lucas and Noël in the media, said that they were participating in Carnival on Saturday, February 22, in the city of Pau when they came across a 19-year-old man.
The couple had to kick the 19-year-old out of a community event the previous night because of his “inappropriate behavior” towards women at the event.
The next day, they ran into the same man.
“He recognized us,” Noël told Sud Ouest. “He wanted revenge.”
The 19-year-old went after him and the situation “degenerated when he realized that we’re gay.”
The younger man started hitting them and used anti-gay insults. Their sexual orientation “obviously drove him crazy,” Noël said.
Lucas suffered multiple injuries to his face and was forced to take three days off work.
The couple insists that the attack was motivated by anti-gay bias, but the tribunal in Pau is only charging the alleged assailant with “voluntary assault aggravated by alcohol” and said that the case did not meet the elements of a hate crime.
The couple said that they wanted to cut the police interview short because they were still shaken by the attack, and that might have led the court to believe there wasn’t enough evidence of a hate crime.
“It was indeed an anti-gay hate crime,” they told local media.
The local organization LGBT+ Arcolan is trying to get the court to recognize the attack as a hate crime. The attacker, who was arrested but has since been released, will stand trial in September.
The couple, though, said that they’re not going to hide who they are.
“We will continue to hold hands, to kiss,” they said. “This attack only makes us want to show more affection.”