A six-year-old boy in England is scared to go outside after a homophobic neighbor told him he’d “die of AIDS” because of his LGBTQ father.
The boy, who lives in Ely, Cambridgeshire, was subjected to a verbal onslaught from a neighbor with a history of homophobic and racist comments, according to the Ely Standard. (The boy, his father, and the neighbor are not identified.)
The father told the Standard that the family had returned home and his son had ventured out into the garden, after which they heard “shouting.”
“We wondered what was going on; [the neighbor] was screaming at our son so I got my child inside,” the father said.
According to the father, his son was subjected to a ten-minute rant while outside, during which he was told that he would “grow up to be a faggot” and would “die of AIDS.”
The Standard notes that the comments were believed to be derived from his father being “of a LGBTQ+ background.”
After the boy was moved inside, the father recorded more of the neighbor’s comments, which contained offensive language that the Standard opted not to publish.
The boy told his father that the neighbor was yelling so loudly that the youth thought the man was in their garden. It left the boy “too scared” to go out into the garden the following week.
According to the father, it wasn’t the first outburst from the neighbor. He was allegedly recorded by police making racist comments in July, and the father said that the family have frequently heard homophobic and racist statements from the neighbor since they moved in two years ago.
A Cambridgeshire Police spokesperson said that they are “currently progressing with a community resolution and a letter of apology in relation to his behavior and comments made,” but that “[no] charges or arrests have been made and an investigation is ongoing.”
They added that the neighbor has moved from the area, but will be told not to contact the family.
The father told the Standard that by speaking out, he hopes other LGBTQ people and families feel empowered to speak out about abuse.
“If other people have experienced it but are too embarrassed to report it, I’d still urge them to report and maybe something will happen,” he said.
The United Kingdom is currently experiencing a spike in anti-LGBTQ attacks, which one gay lawmaker recently blamed on Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former U.S. president Donald Trump.
Last month, a gay couple was punched, kicked, and beaten with a hammer after a group of men spotted them holding hands in Radcliffe, near Manchester.
It was the latest in a series of assaults on gay men in England, which has seen the number of reported homophobic hate crimes treble between 2015 and 2020 — although LGBTQ charities say the statistics are only the “tip of the iceberg,” BBC News reported last year.
Last month, a gay couple was brutally beaten by a gang of people outside of a gay nightclub in Basildon, a gay man was beaten in the face with a wine bottle for holding hands with another man in public, and another gay man was punched in the face so powerfully that he was knocked unconscious and required surgery to prevent him losing sight in one of his eyes.
In August, two gay men were left with multiple fractures after they were beaten unconscious by a gang of teenagers in a grocery store parking lot.
People took to the streets of Liverpool, one of England’s major cities, in June to protest a recent spate of anti-LGBTQ attacks in the city, with police increasing their patrols to try and combat the violence.
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