Tom Freeman, 59 and Mauro Padovani, 46 who live outside of Ghent, Belgium come forward to talk about their brutal beating. It appears that a young, straight Bulgarian/Croatian couple moved into the neighborhood 4 years ago and when the first time they met they said, “We hate gays.”
Mauro said that that the straight couple harassed them repeatedly sometimes violently by throwing bricks at them. Mauro said they reported them to the police but the police seemed uninterested and did nothing.
“It’s been four years that they have been making our life hell. Tom was punched in the face two years ago, I was attacked just two months ago,” Mauro told Genova Today.
“In another incident, the woman, who lives above us, threw two bricks from her terrace onto ours, missing me by very little.”
“The police never did anything,” he added.
However, this past Monday which was Tom’s birthday, it became violent.
“We were going to a friend’s house to celebrate. We had just gotten into the car when our neighbor approached it and spat on the window,” Mauro said.
Tom tried to calm the male neighbor, but he was punched by the neighbor. Mauro got out of the car with a steering wheel lock, “but the boy snatched it from my hands and started hitting us.”
Tom suffered two crushed vertebrae, and Mauro sustained a concussion. What especially hurt is that Tom has Alzheimer’s disease. “It’s the thing that hurt me most,” he said. “To see him on the ground in tears. To beat a person like him is like beating a child.”
Mauro put images on Facebook in the hopes of awareness about violence. “I hope that no gay person, either here in Belgium or in Italy, should ever suffer a brutal assault like the one we have suffered,” he said.
Police have arrested the couple, the woman has been ordered to stay away from them, and the man involved is being held on assault with a hate crime enhancement charge and is awaiting trial.
The resident of Ghent has since organized a demonstration against anti-gay violence to show their support.