An important demonstration against homophobia takes place tonight in Dublin in the aftermath of a frightening mob attack on a Polish gay man in the Phoenix park at the end of last month. The protest will take place on the steps of the Parkgate street court complex because of its location close to the scene of the attack and because of the Garda disinterest in investigating it.
As the organisers of tonights protest explain “On 30th July 2016 a gay man was viciously attacked in Phoenix Park by a gang of over 10 young men. They made homophobic threats and insults, chased him, hit him with an iron bar and made him fear for his life by beating him and attempting to run him over in a car. He ran, screaming for help until he found someone and the gang finally fled. He was taken to hospital and treated for his injuries.
Instead of Gardai seeking a statement from him following the attack, he had to insist on it being taken. He felt like nobody wanted a statement from him. Gardai did not give him confidence that anything would come from their investigation, citing the lack of CCTV footage available within the park.”
“This incident was violent, premeditated and malicious. We do not think it is acceptable to allow this violence against LGBTQ people to continue in Ireland and abroad. As well as this, the ordeal conveyed by Marcin, of trying to give his statement to the Gardai, sadly echoes the experiences of ourselves and our friends over the years. He was made to feel that the cruel and traumatic assault he endured was not considered to be serious enough to record officially."
The last Garda Inspectorate report shockingly revealed that of 1000 Garda across all ranks none had ever recorded a homophobic attack.
After being ignored outside of the LGBTQ press the attack started to receive mainstream media coverage after the protest was called. But most of this coverage has sought to ‘victims-blame’, i.e. invent reasons why the man ‘invited’ attack. Some of these have been bizarre, for instance the fact that the attack happened around sunset, as anyone familiar with the Phoenix park knows this is when it is at its most beautiful.
Again as the organisers have explained “There's a culture of blaming in Irish society making it socially acceptable to ask whether or not a victim was at fault in some way before condemning a violent attack that was obviously motivated by prejudice (as was evident today in Adrian Kennedy & Jeremy Dixon's radio segment on Marcins attack). The dynamics of inequality are clearly at play in the insistence that certain people put themselves in danger by being alone in public places. Rather than mistrust or doubt, the first reaction of the public when anyone is violently attacked should be outrage.”
The protest will take place at 7pm tonight on the steps of the CCJ on Parkgate street, the LUAS runs within about 150m of the site so its easy to get to. A large turnout is essential to indicate not only no tolerance for homophobia but also no tolerance for the studied inaction and denial of Garda and media.
Words:Andrew Flood (follow Andrew on Twitter)