A gay paramedic has been killed after being doused in petrol and set on fire.
On 23 April, 29-year-old medical assistant Normunds Kindzulis was targeted at his home in Tukums, Latvia, in what authorities are widely referring to as a homophobic attack.
Normunds was treated for burns to 85% of his body in Latvia’s capital of Riga. However, his burns were too severe and he died from his injures five days later (28 April).
His co-worker and roommate Artis Jaunklavins, who is also gay, was hospitalised after rushing to Normunds’ aid. He told Delfi: “I woke up from screams in the corridor. Normunds was flaming like a torch.
“I tried to put out the flames, I carried him in and put him in the bath but the burns were too severe, his clothing had fried into his skin.”
The burned entrance to their home has now been covered with rainbow posters and Pride flags as an act of solidarity.
Although Normunds was set on fire, police claimed there was “no full evidence that a crime took place” and failed to launch a formal investigation. Now that he has passed away, police are required by law to open a criminal investigation.
Normunds previously relocated to Tukums from Riga to escape homophobic death threats. The anti-gay violence continued in Tukums as he was physically attacked at least four times because of his sexuality.
The attacks were not investigated by police, which reportedly contributed to Normunds’ mental health issues and suicidal thoughts.
Artis also told Tukums Independent News that he and Normunds reported threats from their neighbours on numerous occasions, “but there was no reaction”. He said: “We had to wait for someone to be mutilated or killed.”
Andrejs Grishins, Deputy Chief of Latvia’s criminal police, told reporters that “driving someone to the verge of suicide is also a crime.”
Normunds’ murder has prompted a national debate around homophobia in Latvia, which is widely known as one of the worst countries in the EU to be gay. LGBTQ+ activists from around the world mourned his death on social media.
President Egils Levits also condemned the attack, tweeting that “there is no place for hate in Latvia” because the “value of Latvian society is tolerance”.
Normunds Kindzulis, a victim of the homophobic arson attack in Latvia last week, has succumbed to his injuries. Our deepest condolences to his partner and family, and to all our community in Latvia. 🖤 pic.twitter.com/IM90oTk80E
— EuroPride • EPOA (@EuroPride) April 28, 2021
This is Normunds Kindzulis, last week he was the victim of a cruel homophobic arson attack at his home in Latvia with his partner. They recently moved due to death threats but the abuse continued. He died a few days later, he was only 29. Hate like this has no place in this world pic.twitter.com/HeQRyn0WSt
— Tom Knight (@TJ_Knight) May 2, 2021
This is truly heartbreaking. Our love and thoughts go out to Normunds partner and family.
To the LGBTQ+ community in Latvia we send love and solidarity.
RIP Normunds Kindzulis 🖤 https://t.co/TMRTPMGbmK
— Pride In Gloucestershire (@prideinglos) April 29, 2021
We are profoundly saddened to hear about the hate crime murder of Normunds Kindzulis: a 29 year old Latvian gay man.
He was found burning outside his home, after his clothes had been soaked with fuel and lit on fire.
for more information: https://t.co/Fw47mL3O8H
— Council of Europe SOGI (@LGBTcoe) April 30, 2021
No passado dia 23, Normunds Kindzulis foi queimado à porta de casa por ser gay. 85% do seu corpo ficou queimado e morreu na consequência dos ferimentos. Tinha 29 anos, era paramédico e isto aconteceu na Letónia, um país que faz parte da União Europeia. pic.twitter.com/0TEdUgF69p
— Comunidade Cultura e Arte (@comculturaearte) May 1, 2021
Hommage et pensées pour Normunds Kindzulis.
Il avait 29 ans et vivait en Lettonie.
Il était homosexuel.
Il est mort brûlé vif par ses vêtements arrosés d'essence.
Il avait reçu des menaces et avait été attaqué physiquement plusieurs fois.
L'homophobie tue. pic.twitter.com/SQ9pAbhCID
— Ludovic 🌍🏺 (@LudovicHbg) May 1, 2021
Año 2021. Ha fallecido Normunds Kindzulis tras ser quemado vivo el pasado 23 de abril en su casa en Tukum, Letonia 🇱🇻. Los homosexuales son atacados por el mero hecho de serlos. Ni un paso atrás en los derechos humanos #StopHomofobia
Descanse en paz. pic.twitter.com/SC1w8wS5qD
— 𝗔𝗹𝗯𝗲𝗿𝘁 🌈 (@Albert_Edero) May 2, 2021
Normunds Kindzulis, activista LGTB en Letonia, ha sido asesinado, le han quemado en su propia casa. La homofobia sigue campando a sus anchas por el mundo. Nuestras condolencias a su familia y nuestro compromiso de que su memoria seguirá viva en nuestro activismo. Descansa en Paz. pic.twitter.com/znoJ37fxpO
— Fundación Triángulo (@FTriangulo) May 2, 2021
Il s'appelait Normunds Kindzulis, avait 29 ans et vivait en Lettonie.
Il est mort brûlé vif, avec ses vêtements arrosés d'essence.
Juste parce qu'il était homosexuel. pic.twitter.com/9z3ECX188W
— Jean Hugon (@JeanHugon3) May 1, 2021
Se llamaba Normunds Kindzulis.
Tenía 29 años.
Y ha sido asesinado, quemado en su propia casa, en un ataque homofóbico en Letonia.
Ante hechos tan terribles, activismo y visibilidad. Siempre. Hasta que este horror deje de suceder 💔 pic.twitter.com/288REMucYW
— Nando López 🏳️🌈 (@Nando_Lopez_) May 2, 2021
Naidam Latvijā nav vietas. Ja apstiprināsies, ka Tukuma noziedznieka motivācija ir bijusi naids pret kādu sabiedrības daļu, tad tas pastiprina viņa vainu. Latvijas sabiedrības vērtība ir iecietība, un šāda naida izpausme vienlaikus ir noziegums pret sabiedrību.
— Egils Levits (@valstsgriba) April 24, 2021