Police are investigating the assault of a gay man in Rishon Letzion in a suspected homophobic hate crime.
Itiel Sinai, 21, a resident of the city, said that he and a female friend went out to a bar when a group of young men who were standing outside the establishment began mocking him for his sexual orientation. Sinai suffered bruises in the attack, and his friend’s car was damaged.
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“I’m used to getting shouted and cursed at when I go places,” Sinai told Haaretz. “I went out to the car, and about 15 people passed by us. They asked me if I’m gay, and from the moment I said yes, everything went black,” he said. “Seven of them ran at me and beat me, punching and kicking, they knocked me down.”
He said a taxi came by and someone helped him into his friend’s car. When they closed the car door, he said, the group of men climbed onto the car and began taking apart the hood. “If the police hadn’t come, they also would have stabbed me, and they got into their cars and took off,” he said.
Police detectives have taken the security cameras from the area to identify the cars of those involved in the attack, but there are no suspects yet. “I didn’t know them and I’ve never talked to them,” Sinai said of his attackers. “When we were outside and passed by them, they were singing songs, so I smiled at them. I don’t know where it came from, and where this hate is from – how they beat someone who says he’s gay.”
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The Aguda – Israel’s LGBTQ Task Force, which is giving aid to Sinai, called the attack “a grave act of LGBTQ-phobia hate that cannot be tolerated. Itiel did nothing but be who he is, and suffered intense violence by criminals just because of his sexual orientation. Hate and LGBTQ-phobia hurts each and every one of us, and we will do everything in our power to make sure justice is carried out against these criminals.”
According to the Aguda’s anti-LGBTQ hate crime report published this year, there was a 27 percent increase in acts of hate and violence against members of the LGBTQ community last year; There were 2,696 incidents reported in 2020, compared to 2,125 in 2019. Every three hours, the report says, a hate crime against an LGBTQ person takes place in Israel.