A Russian man was brutally beaten to death for being gay after coming out to his friends, investigators confirmed, stating that he was a victim of a homophobic gang. The victim sustained serious injuries in the assault, including to his genitals.
“The motive for the crime was the [victim’s] non-traditional sexual orientation,” senior regional investigator Andrey Gapchenko said, adding that two suspected attackers have been arrested and another man is a witness in the case.
The naked body of the deceased 23-year-old man was discovered in the courtyard of an apartment building in Volgograd on May 10, the day after Russia celebrated Victory Day, which commemorates the end of World War II.
According to one of the suspects, the victim came out as a homosexual to his friends while they were drinking beer on a bench outside. His friends reportedly decided to taunt him by making him walk home naked, and began ripping off his clothes. “When they were done, the men decided not to stop there,” Gapchenko said.
The victim’s skull was smashed with a 20-kilogram (44-pound) rock, and the body was apparently raped with beer bottles, local media reported. The suspects also tried and failed to burn his body by putting pieces of carton boxes underneath it and lighting them on fire.
After brutally assaulting the victim, the men left, but later returned after realizing that the victim would call the police if he regained consciousness. After returning to the scene, the perpetrator decided to beat the victim to death. One of the suspects picked up a rock and hit the victim with it eight times in the head.
Currently, there are two suspects in the case: A 22-year-old man, who went to school with the victim, and his 27-year-old friend, who has a criminal record for theft. The latter man has confessed to the murder, according to investigators. A third person is being treated as a witness in the investigation. If convicted, the perpetrators face up to 15 years in jail.
The investigators’ confirmation that homophobia was a motive in the murder is a rare acknowledgement in Russia, as most such cases are investigated as domestic crimes, RIA Novosti reported, citing LGBT activists.
Nikolay Alekseyev, a leader in Russia’s LGBT community, said he will be lobbying to tighten accountability for crimes committed on the basis of hatred of sexual orientation, Interfax quoted him as saying.
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