Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Belfast Gay Man Has Suffered Three Years of Homophobic Attacks

BELFAST

A gay man in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has been attacked by homophobic gangs in his neighborhood for the past three years, with stones thrown at him just last week.

"It's got to the stage now where I'm afraid they're actually going to kill him," the man’s mother, Paula Devine, told news site Belfast Live. "It started with slurs about six months after he moved in, the name calling, it's all homophobic abuse, once they found out he was gay that was it.” The man’s name was not disclosed in the article.

One night last week, when the 25-year-old man was walking home from his mother’s house, a gang threw stones at him, she said. The windows of his home have been smashed in at least five times in the past three years, and the house has been spray-painted with antigay graffiti on several occasions.

They have reported the attacks to police, but no one has been arrested. Police said they are continuing to investigate, with a spokesperson telling Belfast Live, "Police are treating these incidents as hate crimes. Police take hate crime very seriously and actively investigate all incidents reported to us.”

The man lives in public housing, under the authority of the Housing Executive of Northern Ireland, and has sought to be moved to another location, but the options offered have been unacceptable, his mother said. "They wanted him to go to another hostel and it could be anywhere in Northern Ireland,” Devine said, noting that her son had a negative experience in a previous hostel stay. “They also offered him a flat in Lenadoon, which is just too far away from my support." A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said the man has been given a variety of choices, but the agency will continue to work with the family.

Member of Parliament Paul Maskey said he would also work with the family and the Housing Executive to find a solution. “These attacks need to end,” he told Belfast Live. “Nobody should live under intimidation like this.”

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