A protest against LGBTQ+ hate is to be held in Birmingham this week following a series of shocking homophobic attacks in the city in the last few months.

The most recent attack was against a man who had a wine bottle thrown at his head in Birmingham city centre during the weekend, police have reported.

John-Paul Kesseler was attacked with a wine bottle and a poleJohn-Paul Kesseler
John-Paul Kesseler was attacked with a wine bottle and a pole in Birmingham city centre

John-Paul Kesseler from Moseley was walking home hand-in-hand with a man at about early on Sunday (October 10) after a night in the city’s Gay Village.

The 38-year-old said a man by a car on Holloway Circus saw them and shouted “you should not be doing that”, before assaulting Kesseler and driving away. West Midlands Police, who are investigating the incident and reviewing CCTV footage, have since stepped up patrols in the vicinity.

On September 30, a man was beaten unconscious in an unprovoked attack in Birmingham’s Gay Village. Matt Brooks was punched in the face with such force he needed emergency surgery on a fractured eye socket to relieve pressure on his eyeball.

Matt Brooks was beaten in an unprovoked attack in Birmingham's Gay Village Matt Brooks
Matt Brooks was beaten in an unprovoked attack in Birmingham’s Gay Village

Targeted outside fast food restaurant Urban Kitchen in Hurst Street, Brooks reported the attack as a homophobic assault.

These latest incidents come only two months after a vicious and unprovoked attack left two men hospitalised following a vicious attack on the same junction.

On August 15, two victims, aged in their 30s were attacked with bottles “having earlier been subjected to homophobic abuse shouted from a passing car” outside Bromsgrove Street’s Missing Bar.

The men, Rob and Patrick, were abused and violently attacked with bottles and subjected to homophobic abuse in what police described as an “appalling hate crime”.  The attack left both victims covered in blood from cuts to their head and arms. Patrick was also knocked unconscious.

During the attack, Patrick had his phone snatched by one of the thugs as he tried to film the abuse, and one of their female friends was dragged along by the car as she tried to get it back, resulting in the woman suffering a foot injury.

Rob (left) and Patrick suffered homophobic verbal abuse followed by shocking physical violence@LindaRiley8/Twitter
Rob (left) and Patrick suffered homophobic verbal abuse followed by shocking physical violence

Protest against hate

In response, several LGBTQI+ groups and their allies have come together to form a coalition against homophobia in Birmingham.

Birmingham Against LGBTQI Hate have called for a rally to be held to demonstrate solidarity to victims of homophobia and to stand against anti-LGBTQI+ acts of aggression.

Organisers are urging members of the LGBTQI+ community, friends and allies to join them outside Nightingale Club in Kent Street on Thursday to call for more to be done to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

The group’s Facebook page states: “Following several homophobic attacks in our city, there will a solidarity protest!”

The event coincides with National Hate Crime Awareness Week, taking place between 9 – 16 October.

Steph Keeble is director of the Birmingham LGBT, the city’s leading charity advocating for and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities in the city.

Expressing her support for the rally, she told I Am Birmingham, “I was really shocked and appalled to read about the homophobic attack that took place over the weekend in Birmingham’s Gay village, the second extremely violent incident in a couple of weeks.

“Birmingham LGBT send out our support and solidarity to the victims of these horrendous crimes are thoughts are with you

“The rise in homophobic biphobic and transphobic hate has led to many people in our community and in our city feeling frightened and vulnerable a feeling many of us are more than familiar with this is not acceptable.

“At a time when hate is rising it is important that we come together as a community in solidarity and in strength, as we have many times in the past when we have fought for basic human rights a fight that sadly as these incidents show is still continuing.

“Members of the local LGBTQ plus community are coming together to organise a protest against the rise in hate. I would urge everyone who can attend to do so because a show of unity, strength, love and Pride is the strongest antidote to hate .”

Community activist and ally Salman Mirza is helping to coordinate the protest. He said: “Two people were holding hands and were attacked by cowards, too chicken to do it at Pride, and 99.9% of people in Brum are not like this but staying silent is not enough, that’s why we will be out on Thursday!”

Supporters are also encouraged to bring banners, rainbow flags, placards, lots of noise and lots of colour to stand proud and in defiance of hate.

The protest will be held outside Nightingale Club in Kent Street, Birmingham, on Thursday 14 October at 6pm. You can join the Facebook event page here

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