Police have arrested a man over a homophobic hate crime in which a man was attacked with a bottle in Birmingham’s Gay Village.

The 29-year-old surrendered to West Midlands Police today (21 Oct) and has been arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The vicious attack took place in the early hours of Sunday 10 October as the victim, John-Paul Kesseler, was walking in Holloway Circus. The assault left him with a gashed head.

Police launched an investigation, describing the violent assault as “abhorrent”, revealing the 38-year-old victim had been struck with a glass bottle and whacked with an iron bar.

Kesseler, from Moseley, said he was targeted by a homophobic thug for “holding hands with another man” while walking along Holloway Circus in the early hours of the morning on his way back to a hotel after a night out in the city.

Kesseler said: “We had all been to the Gay Village and were walking towards Holloway Circus. I was going to a hotel with a close friend and we were holding hands, walking towards the Pagoda.

“Outside the 24 hours shop, there was a bloke standing outside his car and he noticed us. He said we shouldn’t be holding hands.

“He started getting aggressive and reached into his car for an empty wine bottle. I didn’t notice him coming and the next thing I knew, I felt bashed round my head. I felt I was bleeding, I could feel blood dripping down my clothes.

“I immediately called the police and the bloke went into his car and grabbed a pole. He started coming at me with this pole.”

The callous attacker jumped into his car after the appalling hate crime and fled the scene.

As he waited bleeding by the roadside for the police to arrive the victim stated he received homophobic insults from passers-by who said: “”We don’t agree with that LGBTQ stuff.”

An ambulance crew arrived at the scene and transferred Mr Kesseler to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment.

Investigation 

After trawling through CCTV footage of the incident, officers made several arrest attempts at addresses linked to the perpetrator and carried out other enquiries in a bid to track him down, resulting in the man handing himself in just before 11.30am today.

Birmingham Police Superintendent James Littlehales said: “This was a really nasty attack with a weapon and one which we believe was motivated by hate.

“Hate crime and keeping people safe in our nightlife centres are priorities for us.

“Everyone should feel safe and comfortable to be who they are, we will not tolerate anyone being targeted in this way.

“This sort of offence is totally unacceptable and offenders must understand we take it extremely seriously and that they face time in prison.”

Police said they are also investigating other homophobic hate crimes that have been committed in recent weeks and are determined to get justice for victims.

Anti-LGBTQ+ attacks

Matt Brooks was beaten in an unprovoked attack in Birmingham’s Gay VillageStaff Reporter | I Am Birmingham
Matt Brooks was beaten in an unprovoked attack in Birmingham’s Gay Village

Kesseler’s experience is the latest in a series of attacks targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community in Birmingham.

As many incidents continue to go unreported across the city, key incidents that took place in and around Southside’s Gay Village were highlighted after being reported to authorities.

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.

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.

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

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.

Matt Williams, known as “Dahliah Rivers”, is a drag artist who also  forward with their experience of abuse after other recent attacks were reported in the media.

Matt Williams was wearing full drag when a man threw a liquid out of a car windowStaff Reporter
Matt Williams was wearing full drag when a man threw a liquid out of a car window

Williams was wearing full drag when a man threw a liquid out of a car window in the street outside The Nightingale Club, the city’s oldest and largest gay venue, at around 2.30am on August 6 (Friday).

The 26-year-old, who regularly performs at the popular LGBTQ+ venue, was struck in the face on Kent Street in the heart of the Gay Village.

“The area is notorious for a car full of people driving down the road hurling abuse. The police are aware of it,” Dahliah said.

“I have to get people now to walk me down to The Village, which is where I get changed. I don’t feel safe even walking down one street.”

Solidarity protests

The recent attacks in the Gay Village and impact on LGBTQ+ individuals have brought together members from across the community and their allies.

Last Thursday (October 14) hundreds of people came together to voice their anger and frustration at the attacks and demanded action be taken to make the city’s Gay Quarter safer, with some calling on the area to be pedestrianised.

Councillors, police officials and activists gathered outside the Nightingale Club waving rainbow flags, placards, banners and chanting in solidarity with victims of attacks, who also spoke at the rally. The event, chaired by Salman Mirza and Geoff Dexter, was organised by Birmingham Against LGBTQI Hate, a newly formed coalition of diverse community members, activists, educators, trade unions and allies.

The protest was followed by a summit held with some members of the community by local officials on tackling safety, led by Cllr John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety & Equalities.

Earlier today (October 21), a show of solidarity was held by individuals near Hurst Street as a continued demonstration of strength in the face of adversity. LGBTQ activist Khakan Qureshi led a group of supporters as they backed the #HandsNotHate campaign which has been trending since last week’s protest.

According to Qureshi, the action was key to building a united base of ground support to ensure the community is protected and heard. He urged community members and allies to attend a second solidarity protest which will be held on Sunday (October 24) at 1pm outside the Birmingham LGBT Centre on ‘Pagoda Island’ in Holloway Circus.

According to organisers Birmingham Against LGBTQI Hate, they want attendees to “bring flags, banners, posters, placards, colour and pride” to show solidarity to the cause. “Let’s stand united for peace, united against hate.”

From tomorrow, West Midlands Police’s Birmingham City Centre team will also making themselves more visible and available in Birmingham’s Gay Village.

The City Centre’s LGBTQI+ Officer, PC Kennedy, will be hosting a pop-up police station on Hurst Street, on Friday (October 22) night and Saturday  (October 23) night from 7:30pm.


If you have suffered homophobia, transphobia and other forms of abuse, you can contact Galop, a national LGBT+ anti-abuse charity: www.galop.org.uk

To report an incident to West Midlands Police if you have been the victim of a hate crime, click here.

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