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”.