Two men who admitted to beating up a gay couple because they kissed in public will not be sent to prison.
The assailants – whose names have not been released – told the court that they attacked a gay couple because kissing at a campground for people without homes in Issoire, France showed a lack of “respect” for others in the area.
Related: An Uber driver heard his passenger was gay, so he beat the snot out of him
“We don’t have anything against gays, but the day before they were going to set up their space, they kissed in front of everyone, in front of children,” said one of the two assailants, age 39, in court earlier this week.
The attack occurred in May 7, 2019. The gay couple said that they went to the campground to reserve a spot for the next day and they were greeted with homophobia: a hand-painted sign that said “PD interdie” (“No queers allowed,” misspelled) was hanging at the entrance.
But they told the local paper La Montagne that they didn’t care.
“I thought it was a joke,” one of the victims said. “I know a few people at the camp, I’ve even gone out with a few of the younger men here.”
The next day, after they got settled in, they were surrounded by people who were already staying there. The victims were beaten and called anti-gay slurs, according to their lawyer, Marie-Brigitte Berraguas-Tessier.
“They were beaten to a pulp,” Berraguas-Tessier said. The police were called and the victims couldn’t get out until the officers arrived. The victims had to seek medical attention for their injuries.
This week, two of the assailants – ages 20 and 39 – appeared in court.
“They insulted me, I had to defend myself,” the 20-year-old said.
The other said the victims should “show more respect” than to kiss in front of others at the camp.
“It’s clear that you’re not at all homophobic,” said judge Charles Gouilhers, ironically.
“We live in a free country,” one of the victims told the court. “A kiss on the cheek, that’s my right. But I never kissed my boyfriend in the middle of the camp because I know there are old people there. We’re civilized, we didn’t deserve to get beat up like that.”
“The road to tolerance is long and steep,” said the prosecutor, who noted that the suggested penalty for “this kind of behavior” is seven years in prison. He only asked for six months of prison for the 39-year-old and a six month suspended sentence for the 20-year-old.
The judge sentenced the 39-year-old to six months of house arrest with electronic surveillance and the 20-year-old to a six-month suspended sentence and 210 hours of community service. Both assailants will have to pay the victims 8,500 euro (around $10,000) in restitution.
The son of the 39-year-old also attacked the victims and is awaiting trial in juvenile court. The father admitted that his son punched the victims.