Homophobic attack prompts protest outside Leinster House

Brazilian man has since left Ireland after being attacked by assailants and beaten

Sonya Mulligan and Ger Moane (centre) with fellow protesters joined the kiss outside the Dáil protest at the lack of hate crime legislation in Ireland. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill/The Irish

Sonya Mulligan and Ger Moane (centre) with fellow protesters joined the kiss outside the Dáil protest at the lack of hate crime legislation in Ireland. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill/The Irish

 

A homophobic attack which caused a Brazilian man to leave the country has prompted a “kissing protest” outside Leinster House.

Danilo Matta (28) was attacked on Capel Street Bridge in Dublin on September 23rd. A gang of six people hit him several times with a steel bar and ran off.

Mr Matta said the gang attacked him after he kissed his boyfriend good night. According to his friend Niall Cowley, Mr Matta has returned to Brazil to be closer to his family.

“We were all shocked and horrified by the attack. He left Ireland because he does not feel safe here. Ireland has made great progress as far as LGBT people are concerned, but that incident inspired this protest,” said Mr Cowley.

“We wanted to do something that was a sign of the LGBT community showing their strength against intimidation.”

Mr Cowley said, that in the absence of hate-crime legislation, the attack on his friend would be regarded as no different to a drunken brawl on the street.

“We all know the motivation for those different crimes are different, so they shouldn’t be treated the same by the courts.”

Appeal for legislation

The LGBTI+ community want attacks on gay people to be recognised in any future hate crime legislation, said protest organisers.

Eddie McGuinness, manager of Gay Pride in Dublin, said he had been the victim of a homophobic attack and it had taken him years to deal with it.

Such hate-crime legislation would give more power to the Garda and judges to deal with incidents of verbal and physical abuse, he maintained.

“It’s not just about the LGBT community but the wider community too. Affection is affection whoever you are. We are a nation of people who love and why not show that with a simple kiss here today.”

Geraldine Moane and her wife Sonia Mulligan kissed for the camera. “We need more protection against hate speech because hate speech turns into hate crimes.”

Ms Mulligan said: “We need more love speech. We need more actions and people giving out positive messages rather than hateful messages.”