A man was left with blood streaming down his face after being beaten with a bottle of wine in a brutal homophobic attack – for holding another man’s hand.
John-Paul Kesseler was targeted on Holloway Circus in the early hours of Sunday October 10 as he walked into a hotel with a close friend after a night out.
He was crushed on the head with a bottle and hit with an iron bar.
READ MORE: Man beaten in unprovoked attack in Birmingham gay village
His attacker fled, leaving the injured 38-year-old bleeding by the side of the road. The victim and this friend were then subjected to homophobic taunts from passers-by who said, “We don’t agree with this LGBTQ stuff.”
Mr Kesseler, a student from Moseley, shared images of his injuries on his Twitter account, triggering a wave of support. It was the latest in a number of homophobic attacks in the city center, which prompted police and West Midlands Crime Commissioner Simon Foster to declare the issue of hate crimes ‘top priority’ “.
He told BirminghamLive: “We had all gone to Gay Village and were heading towards Holloway Circus.
“I was going to a hotel with a close friend and we were holding hands as we walked towards the pagoda.
“Outside of the 24 hour store, there was a guy standing in front of his car and he noticed us.
“He said we shouldn’t be holding hands and I said, ‘What’s the matter?’
“He started to get aggressive and grabbed an empty wine bottle in his car.
“I didn’t really think we were in danger, so I didn’t pay attention and thought, ‘Let’s go’.
“I didn’t notice it coming and the next thing I knew I felt crushed around my head. I felt I was bleeding, I could feel blood running on my clothes. a little dizzy.
“I immediately called the police and the guy got into his car and grabbed a pole. He started coming towards me with that pole. I raised my arm to block it and the pole made him my arm. .
“After that, he rushed into his car and drove off.”
Stay up to date with the latest city center news with our Birmingham News email updates
Mr Kesseler said he and his friend were later insulted by strangers as he was bleeding.
“There were homophobic comments after the attack from people brooding outside, saying, ‘We don’t agree with this LGBTQ stuff,’ he said.
Police and ambulance teams arrived quickly and he spent several hours at Queen Elizabeth Hospital seeking treatment for a cut in his eyebrow. He said he was lucky his injury wasn’t worse.
Police consider the attack to be a potential hate crime.
Mr Kesseler said: “If you feel threatened by a couple holding hands and doing nothing, you are in trouble.
“Police have a tough job. It’s been a growing problem for some time and it’s getting worse.”
He tweeted after the attack: “Bottle around my f ****** head for holding another man’s hand.
“I’m so angry right now. Just outside of the gay scene, our supposed safe space, these morons feel emboldened enough to do this.
“The worst part of what happened tonight was not, oddly enough, the bottle around my head, it’s the people who saw it happen with whom they try to justify it, and I quote:” Yeah, but we don’t agree with that LGBTQ stuff. “
West Midlands Police said: ‘We are investigating after a man was assaulted in a homophobic attack in Birmingham in the early hours of yesterday morning (10 October).
“The 38-year-old was walking along Holloway Circus in Birmingham when he was approached by another man who attacked him with a glass bottle and an iron bar.
“He was rushed to hospital for treatment for injuries to his face and arm and has since been discharged. We took an initial statement and arranged to take a full statement later today ( October 11).
“Video surveillance in the area is being reviewed as our investigations continue.
“We understand that experiencing a hate crime is extremely distressing and upsetting and we want to reassure any targeted person that we will listen, that their report will be treated with sensitivity and that we will take action.
Anyone with information or who witnessed this assault should contact the police via live chat on our website or by calling 101. Please cite crime reference number 20/1794083/21.