- The Magazine
A gay man in Latvia has died after allegedly being doused in flammable liquid and set on fire in a “homophobic arson attack.”
Normunds Kindzulis, a 29-year-old medical assistant, succumbed to his injuries on April 28 after suffering burns on 85% of his body on April 23.
Artis Jaunklavins, Kindzulis’ roommate, was also burned in the attack after trying to douse the flames.
He told Lithuanian website Delfi that he found Kindzulis “burning like a torch” outside their home in Tukums.
Jaunklavins, who sustained burns while trying to “put out the flames,” carried Kindzulis to the bath, “but the burns were too severe, his toasted clothes embedded in the skin,” he said.
He had previously alleged that Kindzulis was engaged in a fight with a homophobic neighbor who had threatened and harassed them prior to the attack.
Jaunklavins accused the neighbor of dousing Kindzulis in flammable liquid — reported by AFP as being gasoline — and setting him on fire.
Kindzulis was taken to Latvia’s capital city Riga, around 70 miles from Tukums, for specialist treatment.
However, the European Pride Organisers Association announced last week that he had died, calling it the result of a “homophobic arson attack.”
“Normunds Kindzulis, a victim of the homophobic arson attack in Latvia last week, has succumbed to his injuries,” EuroPride wrote. “Our deepest condolences to his partner and family, and to all our community in Latvia.”
Normunds Kindzulis, a victim of the homophobic arson attack in Latvia last week, has succumbed to his injuries. Our deepest condolences to his partner and family, and to all our community in Latvia. 🖤 pic.twitter.com/IM90oTk80E
— EuroPride • EPOA (@EuroPride) April 28, 2021
In the aftermath of the initial attack, Jaunklavins alleged that local police had been unwilling to investigate the homophobic threats made against Kindzulis.
After Kindzulis’ death was announced, police suggested that he made have set himself on fire.
“Bringing someone to the brink of suicide is also a crime,” Andrejs Grishins, a local police officer, told reporters.
Latvia’s president, Egils Levits, initially responded to the attack by tweeting that there was “no place for hatred in Latvia.”
“If it is confirmed that the motivation of the Tukums criminal has been hatred towards a part of the society, then it increases his guilt,” Levtis said. “The value of Latvian society is tolerance, and such an expression of hatred is at the same time a crime against society.”
Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said the “heinous crime” should be “thoroughly investigated,” EuroNews reports.
Latvian LGBTQ organization Mozaika called the attack “brutal, incomprehensible” and a “possible hate crime.”
Mozaika demanded an “immediate and urgent response” from police and a “proper investigation.”
“The current homophobic attacks and incidents are a clear result of the hatred-based policies of some politicians and organizations,” Mozaika added.
Mozaika referenced a vote, taken earlier this year by the Latvian parliament, to approve an amendment to the country’s constitution defining marriage as “a union between a man and a woman” and a family as “a mother (woman) and father (man).”
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