'Terrifying' homophobic attacks in city centre condemned by LGBT group
An LGBT group in the Black Country has condemned the 'terrifying' homophobic attacks that have taken place in Birmingham.
Kelly Walker-Reid from Wolverhampton LGBT+ has said the recent attacks in Birmingham city centre have angered local members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
She said Birmingham has gone from a "fun, safe" space to a place where you have to "look over your shoulder".
Her comments come after a man had a wine bottle thrown at his head after a night in the city's Gay Village at the weekend.
The victim, John-Paul Kesseler, said a man attacked him with a bottle and then a pole because he was holding hands with another man.
Earlier this year, a couple were injured with bottles and had homophobic abuse shouted at them.
Kelly said: "We in Wolverhampton are not that much further from Birmingham, and certainly members of our community are fearful to travel there after what's happened.
"It was considered a safe space but now it's terrifying.
"What was a place that you could enjoy yourself and have fun has turned into an area where you have to look over your shoulder."
The attacks have prompted a joint statement from West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, and Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward.
They said: "The recent abhorrent, vicious homophobic attacks in Birmingham disgust the three of us in equal measure.
"For someone to be assaulted because of who they are or who they love is simply not acceptable. But hate will not win and our message to the homophobes is that they do not represent Birmingham, and they never will. Everyone has a right to feel safe on our streets, no matter where they are, day or night."
WMP has increased patrols in and around the Gay Village to provide reassurance. The PCC has also launched a new £200,000 service to support victims of hate crime.
Kelly added: "We're working closely with the police in Wolverhampton but we always ask for people to stay safe and report anything, no matter how minor.
"I do know that West Midlands Police are working hard to bring perpetrators to justice.
"Everyone in Wolverhampton is thinking of the people affected by these attacks in Birmingham."