Version on FR.

For several years, very violent attacks against homosexuals are multiplying in the suburbs of big cities. Investigation of a phenomenon that alarms associations and authorities.

A spokesman of the ‘Stop Homophobie’ association Lyes Alouane poses during a photo session in Paris on November 27, 2018. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

The attack took place on the night of 4 to 5 March 2019. Kevin, 32, gets out of his car just parked in a private residence in Drancy, north of Paris. Three young men fall on him, beat him in the head, throw him to the ground and then kick him. A stab wounds his lung. Nevertheless, Kevin manages to trigger the alarm of his car, which ends the aggression.

Three days earlier, the 30-year-old had made contact, via a dating site, with a 27-year-old man. The two Internet users, who exchange messages for 72 hours, decide to make an appointment. “He had justified the late hour by saying that he worked in a restaurant, says Kevin today, who is still suffering the effects of his aggression. We had talked about our lives and our professional projects. At no time was I suspicious. ” Since the attack, the assailants were arrested. Kevin then discovered that it was precisely this man who stabbed him. “I knew that these ambushes existed, but I thought it only happened to others,” the victim blows.

345 assaults in the suburbs in 2018.

Drancy, Gennevilliers, Chanteloup-les-Vignes, in the Paris region but also Vénissieux, near Lyon, physical aggression against homosexual people, particularly violent, have multiplied in recent years. Officially, there are no figures of the phenomenon, as these attacks are difficult to identify. Reluctance of victims to lodge a complaint, rankings without follow-up due to lack of evidence … However, associations draw up accounts based on requests for help. Of the 1,277 “denunciations of physical assaults” identified in 2018 by Stop Homophobie, 672 took place in Île-de-France, including 345 in the suburbs.

“It’s mainly ambush,” said Terrence Katchadourian, the association’s secretary general, who assisted 78 people in court cases. For its part, the Ministry of Justice records very few convictions: “In 2017, 25 convictions were for aggravated offenses against persons because of sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim” , says Does the Chancellery say that “these figures are probably not very representative of the phenomenon” . And states: “These facts can also be prosecuted and punished as intentional violence with weapons, in meetings. “

“The ambush, a widespread phenomenon”.

A source close to Matignon gives other elements of analysis. “There is not necessarily more aggression, but they are much more violent,” she says, worrying about the “widespread phenomenon of ambushes, via dating applications . “

How to explain it? For Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, imam, sociologist and one of the founders of the Association Muslims Muslims of France (now extinct), the problem “is primarily socio-economic. When the level of education is low and access to employment is restricted, this leads to a phenomenon of scapegoating, which still targets minorities. ” According to him, ” the religious is not a determining factor ” of the violence.

“An Arab homosexual is the shame of the community”.

An analysis that does not share Mehdi Aifa, president of the Amicale du Refuge (gathering former residents of the Refuge Association, which helps young homosexuals driven out of their families). “There is homophobia everywhere in France, but it is obviously much more violent in the suburbs, especially in neighborhoods where there is a concentration of people of Maghrebi origin and Muslim faith. In these suburbs, being homosexual and Maghreb is incompatible. An Arab homosexual is the shame of the community. “

The young man, who lived in Vénissieux, continues: “I have in mind dozens of stories of people who are trying to change their sexual orientation by organizing meetings, or even forced marriages. For them, either we lose our family and our community, we accept the marriage and we enter a double life. It can not be denied that in this case Islam is part of the problem. ” This associative charge carries a very tough speech to community and religious leaders and does not believe in a possible dialogue with imams.

“Breaking the fag has become a pride”.

Brahim Nait-Balk, on the contrary, believes in it. “The fight is also played out in the religious field. I want to meet imams, bring Muslim leaders to my conferences to hear my testimony. ” Aged 56, the sports teacher of Moroccan origin traces a calm voice the hardships he went through during his youth in Aulnay-sous-Bois. Blowjobs and rapes imposed for seven years by a group of young people from his city. His silence for fear of reprisals, especially vis-à-vis his brothers and sisters. He left the city of Seine-Saint-Denis at age 31 and told his story in 2009, in a biography (1), which “saved him from suicide,” he says.

Today, when he does not work as a departmental director of the Hauts-de-Seine department, he multiplies conferences in schools. “I can gradually change the eyes,” he believes, although he does not hide his concern about a form of “rise of fundamentalism. Violence is free, widespread. Breaking the fag has become a pride. “

“Some people were waiting for me at the bottom of my house to call me ” dirty homo “.

His story cuts across the testimony of Lyès Alouane, 23 years old. In 2016, the young man, who lived in Gennevilliers, near Paris, posted on his Facebook profile a picture of him and his companion. The next day, insults began to rain in his neighborhood. “Word-of-mouth has played throughout the city, says the delegate of the association Stop Homophobia for the Île-de-France. I was told that I was going to hell, that homosexuality was “haram”, that I was disgusting. Some were watching me downstairs to call me a dirty homo. “

Part of his family stops talking to him. “They would have preferred me to hide. My mother threw me: “If I was doing the sidewalk, I would not tell.” ” In the district, he knows his attackers: one of the leaders was 5 th with him. In two years, he filed 22 complaints. He is also the victim of a trap in Saint-Denis, after a meeting on Facebook. “I got away with 4 stitches in the skull. ” He has since moved, taking refuge in Paris with a friend. His attackers must be tried in June.

Few convictions.

Since January 2017, committing an offense on the basis of sexual orientation constitutes an aggravating circumstance, applicable to all offenses punishable by imprisonment (murder, torture and barbarism, sexual assault, violence, theft, threats, extortion, etc. .).

The number of convictions for such offenses (attacks on persons aggravated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity, life, violence, threats) remains low. French justice has sentenced 25 people in 2017, 39 in 2016, 22 in 2015, 26 in 2014 and 29 in 2013.