Two days ago a man was found dead in the park of Beveren. After an investigation it was confirmed yesterday that the man was the victim of gay-bashing by a group of minors. A lot of people have started protesting online and the same number seems shocked by the news. I am not, because unfortunately it is not a one-time news, but an event that happens practically every day.
Every day in Belgium, hundreds of gay men and women are victims of discrimination because of their sexual orientation. And although the police are obliged to make a case of it, a lot of these cases are treated in a very minor way. Far too often, the same case does not receive the proper attention and the victims are not adequately punished.
In a country like Belgium where it is said every day out loud that we are an open country. A safe country, a country where everyone can be themselves, but the truth is far from that. Radicalization among young people is a fact. There are hate groups on social media, in which hurtful or mocking messages are shared among them. The actions are equated with jaywalking by adolescents, because yes they are just ‘kids’. But if young people are capable of committing an organized crime and as a result killing someone, then these are not kid pranks. Then that is premeditated murder and should be punished appropriately.
I do not want to make a plea here for how bad the Belgian judicial system is. On the contrary, I want to make an appeal for love and tolerance. A call to all parents who sit down with their children today. Talk about this, make it clear that this is not ok. No one deserves this.
I don’t think these young people realize it, but in one go they have scared thousands of men in Belgium again. In a period in which it is already extremely difficult and dating is certainly not easy. In a period where we already hardly trust each other. In this period they chose to create even more panic and make our lives a lot more unpleasant. Because anyone who goes out to meet someone now, either doesn’t do it alone anymore, or with the greatest fear that something like this will happen to him or her as well. And that is unfair.
We really don’t need this. Besides all the terror that a lot of young people have because they’re not out of the closet yet and trying to find themselves. Besides all the fear that when an same sex couple walks down the street they are shouted at because they are holding hands. In addition to all the anxiety and stress that when you come out of the closet at home, you might no longer have a home. Besides all of that, we really didn’t need more fear that when we want to meet someone, hoping to find love and warmth, we can now also run into an ice-cold knife. No, we didn’t need that! So thank you for scaring us back into the closet.
I can only hope that one day we won’t see each other because of the choice of who we love, the color of our skin or the life we lead. I hope that one day we just see each other because of the love we have for each other. How much nicer would it be if instead of pointing fingers or scolding each other, we could be a helping hand to each other? It’s just a shame that I’m best keeping that dream to myself for now.