A gay man says he was the victim of a homophobic attack after his jaw was shattered outside a gay hotel in Spain.
The man, a British tourist visiting Barcelona, required reconstructive surgery after the attack, but says Spanish police refuse to investigate it as a hate crime.
William, a pseudonym to protect his identity, told PinkNews that the attack took place early on July 12, while he was visiting Barcelona on vacation.
He stopped outside the Axel Hotel, a popular gay destination in Barcelona, and lay down on a bench while waiting for his car service to arrive.
While lying down, he was dealt an “extremely strong” blow to the face by two middle-aged men, with one holding a hammer.
“There was a lot of blood coming out of my face and I could feel my mouth was destroyed,” William said. “In that moment I really feared for my life and felt that it could be the end of it.”
Despite the damage to his jaw, William tried to call for help. The men grabbed his backpack and fled the scene, leaving him “in shock, bleeding, [and] still processing” the reason behind the attack.
A receptionist at the Axel Hotel helped him contact an ambulance, but William said he was taken to the hospital by police after it failed to arrive.
It was determined that his jaw had been shattered by the hammer and on July 15 William underwent reconstructive surgery.
He also filed a police report, but told PinkNews that he is disappointed with the law enforcement response. Police confirmed to PinkNews that the attack was being investigated as a “violent robbery,” but William’s sexuality hasn’t been taken into consideration.
He has since emailed Catalonia police to tell them that he believes it was a homophobic attack.
“Even if you look at this from the logical side of things, who approaches another person and the first thing you do is to smash a hammer in their face without them even knowing they were there?” William said.
While he couldn’t recall either of the attackers using anti-gay slurs, William said the fact that the incident took place outside of a known gay venue and that he is gay meant he had “no doubts that I was a victim of a hate crime, a homophobic attack.”
“They didn’t smash my face with a hammer because they wanted to rob me. They could have stolen whatever they wanted in many different ways without smashing my face with a hammer,” he said.
“I was lying there in a very vulnerable position with my phone in my hands and all my belongings easily accessible. If they wanted to steal them, they would have done it easily.”
He added: “This has to stop — starting from the police denying and turning a blind eye to all this. I’m not the only one — I’m sure hundreds of people every day everywhere suffer similar or even worse things than I just did.”
The attack against William comes just days after a gay Spanish man was beaten to death by a mob. Samuel Luiz’s death sparked nationwide protests after he was attacked by at least 12 people outside a nightclub in A Coruña.
Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, called it a “savage and merciless act.”
“We will not take a step backwards when it comes to rights and freedoms and Spain will not tolerate this,” Sánchez tweeted.
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