Dozens of people took to the streets of Birmingham in protest of the city’s recent wave of homophobic attacks.
The demonstrations took place on both the 14 and 24 October, with attendees being “encouraged to bring along posters, banners, rainbow flags, colour, pride and symbols of hope”.
Organised by Birmingham Against LGBTQI Hate, the events saw members of the community and its allies take a stand against homophobia.
The first demonstration took place outside the Nightingale Club, Birmingham’s oldest and largest LGBTQ+ venue, with the second occurring at the Chinese Pagoda in Holloway Circus – near where John-Paul Kesseler was attacked.
Those protesting are “calling for more to be done to protect the city’s LGBTQ+ community and to make the city’s Gay Village safer, as well as identifying anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime which may go unreported in other parts of Birmingham where it might be harder for LGBTQ+ victims to come forward.”
Saima Razzaq, from Birmingham Pride, told the BBC that this is only the beginning of the war against hate.
“The key thing now is to get your MPs and councillors involved and to take these vigils into your communities,” she explained.
Razzaq added: “We can only change things together.
“We don’t want to alienate people, we don’t want to brandish one community homophobic or transphobic – we live in this society, we all live together and we’ve got to work together to put our differences aside and say no to hate.”
The protests follow a recent spike in hate crime against the LGBTQ+ community in the region.
On 10 October, Kesseler was struck with a bottle across the head by a man who was reportedly angered by him holding hands with a male friend as they walked to their hotel.
Just over a week earlier, Matt Brooks was beaten and left unconscious at around 2am on 30 September outside the fast food restaurant Urban Kitchen in what he believes was “more than likely” a hate crime.
Police have reportedly increased patrols in the Gay Village in response to the hate crimes, with civic leaders confirming that £200,000 will be invested into supporting victims of hate crimes.
— Birmingham Against LGBTQI Hate (@BrumAgainstHate) October 24, 2021