News (World)

Gay men in France are facing wave of attacks after being lured into hook-ups

Gay hookup app Grindr
Gay hookup app Grindr Photo: File photo

A new report details a wave of attacks on gay men in France carried out by young perpetrators using hook-up apps to lure their victims before assaulting and robbing them.

The report from the Fondation Jean Jaurès adds to data collected in a survey last year by French investigative site Mediapart. The Mediapart survey counted 300 homophobic ambushes across France between 2017 and 2021, or around one a week. That number likely underestimates the number of incidents grossly due to underreporting.

The attacks analyzed almost always involved a robbery and were not necessarily motivated primarily by anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment, the report’s authors say.

“LGBT-phobic ambushes are not always exclusively motivated by anti-LGBTI+ hatred, but it is always based on it and its effects, and thus helps to perpetuate it,” Flora Bolter, co-director of the LGBTI+ observatory at the Fondation Jean Jaurès, explained.

One example detailed the case of 27-year-old Ilies B., who was recently charged for armed extortion and armed robbery after attacking at least four victims over three weeks in Paris in 2022. He found the men on two anonymous hook-up apps, PlanSM and, which leave no trace of interactions and attract users who may wish to keep their sexuality a secret.

According to LeMonde, “The scammer uses all the codes of homosexual flirting to gain their trust while chatting.”

Ilies B. arranged to meet the men at his home and took them down to his basement “for greater discretion.” There, he threatened them with a knife to the throat or a cleaver and robbed them.

While some victims claimed to have been insulted with homophobic slurs, Ilies B. denied making them, or having any animosity toward the men “because of their community.” Instead, he believed gay men were more active in seeking sexual encounters and therefore could be more easily lured.

“Gay men are also perceived as inferior, so it’s not so bad to target them,” said Baptiste Garreau, head of the legal support committee at advocacy group SOS Homophobie. “Attacking a woman is unacceptable in their code of honor, and attacking a man is dangerous because he’s strong. So attacking a homosexual man seems like a good compromise.”

Attackers also bet that their victims won’t press charges.

“Most are ashamed,” said Terrence Khatchadourian, secretary general of STOP Homophobie, “and think they were stupid enough to let it happen to them. Behind this, there’s above all the shame of being gay, which makes them feel guilty.”

Victims would rather keep quiet than come out in a police report, he adds.

While not all the incidents analyzed were motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ hatred, many that were documented ended up there.

Last year, a 23-year-old victim was waiting for a hook-up at his home following an exchange on Instagram. Three individuals turned up, beat him and broke a glass bottle over his head.

Things turned violent when the victim put his hand on his attacker’s thigh.

“I just wanted to go to his place and explain to him that I wasn’t a faggot,” the perpetrator said later. “He touched my crotch. I had to hit him.”

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