The mayor of a small town in southern France was attacked last Friday, beaten, robbed, and tied to a tree in a gay cruising area in the city of Toulouse.
The mayor, whose identity has not been made public, had parked his car around midnight near Casino Barrière, a gambling and entertainment venue, when two men assaulted him, French newspaper La Depeche reports.
They kicked and punched him, undressed him, took his clothes and car keys, and tied him to the tree. They took off in his car, which they soon abandoned, continuing to flee the area on foot.
The victim, a 67-year-old man, had a broken nose along with other injuries to his head and arms. He was treated at a nearby emergency room. He is the mayor of a village in the department of Aveyron.
There has been speculation that homophobia motivated the attack, but Toulouse prosecutor Samuel Vuelta Simon advised caution, saying the motivations have yet to be known. The victim has not been able to make a full statement, and police are continuing to investigate, but no arrests have been made.
The area where the victim parked is known as a meeting place for gay men, and it has been the site of several antigay crimes. One perpetrator attacked four men in the location on separate occasions in 2018, raping one of them. Others were beaten and/or robbed.
Carole Delga, president of the region of Occitanie, which includes Toulouse, tweeted support for the victim. Her tweet translates as “I strongly condemn such acts. Intolerance, hatred and violence are unacceptable.”