Wilfred de Bruijn

Moves to legalise gay marriage and adoption in France appear to have led to an increase in homophobic attacks, including the horrific beating of a gay couple in Paris that has shocked the nation.

A graphic picture of the cut and bruised face of one of the victims, Wilfred de Bruijn, has now gone viral on the internet.

De Bruijn and his boyfriend Olivier were walking arm in arm in the French capital in the early hour of Sunday morning when they were attacked by three or four men who allegedly shouted “Hey, look they’re gays”.

De Bruijn, a Dutchman who lives in Paris, was kicked and beaten unconscious. He lost a tooth and suffered a fractured skull.

He later posted the picture of his battered face on Facebook, writing: “Sorry to show you this. It’s the face of homophobia.”

He explained: “Last night 19th arrondissement (municipal district), Paris, Olivier and I were badly beaten just for walking arm in arm. I woke up in an ambulance covered in blood, missing tooth and broken bones around the eye. I’m home now. Very sad.”

Olivier described the events to French journalists: “We were leaving a dinner washed down with plenty of wine with friends. We were walking arm in arm towards the Ourcq metro. Not in a ‘homo’ style. We’d had a lovely evening and we were talking about it. A bit loudly, perhaps,” he said.

“Then I heard: ‘Ah, homosexuals!’ I took the first hit in the eyes. I tried to protect myself but I received six hits. It was a wave of hatred. Very violent. I saw my partner on the ground where his head had become a football. I shouted ‘Get lost!’ and they ran off.”

Paris mayor, Bertrand Delano�, said in a statement: “The unleashing of violence this couple suffered for the sole reason that they were holding hands is profoundly worrying and absolutely unspeakable.”

Police confirmed that another gay couple was attacked on Saturday night in Paris, while LGBT rights groups claim that homophobic attacks have tripled in the first three months of the year compared to the same period in 2012.

The groups have linked the spike in homophobia to social tensions over the passage of a bill through the French parliament that would legalise same-sex marriage and gay adoption.

The issue has divided France, with those for and against the bill holding mass protests in the French capital. The legislation, which is backed by the government, is expected to overcome its final hurdle in parliament and become law soon.

Anti-gay groups have threatened to hold another mass protest next month if the law is passed in order to demand its withdrawal and to call for a referendum on the issue.

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