Man attacked with wine bottle for 'holding another man's hand' in Birmingham

John-Paul Kesseler Credit: BPM Media

A man was left with blood pouring down his face after he was attacked with a wine bottle in a homophobic attack in Birmingham.

John-Paul Kesseler said he was targeted for holding hands with another man on Holloway Circus in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Mr Kesseler was smashed across the head with a bottle and whacked with an iron bar as he returned to a hotel with a close friend after a night out.

His attacker fled, leaving the injured 38-year-old bleeding on the roadside.

The victim and his friend claim they were then subjected to homophobic taunts from passers-by who said: "We don't agree with that LGBTQ stuff."

Mr Kesseler, a student from Moseley, shared images of his wounds online, sparking an outpouring of support.

John-Paul Kesseler Credit: BPM Media

Sunday's incident was the latest in a spate of suspected homophobic attacks in the city centre, which have prompted West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster to declare the hate crime problem a "top priority".

Mr Kesseler said: "We had all been to the Gay Village and were walking towards Holloway Circus.

"I was going to a hotel with a close friend and we were holding hands, walking towards the Pagoda.

"Outside the 24 hours shop, there was a bloke standing outside his car and he noticed us.

"He said we shouldn't be holding hands and I said: 'What's the problem?'

"He started getting aggressive and reached into his car for an empty wine bottle.

"I wasn't really thinking we were in any danger, so wasn't paying any attention and thought: 'Let's walk away'.

"I didn't notice him coming and the next thing I knew, I felt bashed round my head. I felt I was bleeding, I could feel blood dripping down my clothes. I was a bit dazed.

"I immediately called the police and the bloke went into his car and grabbed a pole. He started coming at me with this pole. I put up my arm up to block him and the pole him my arm.

"After that, he rushed back into his car and drove away."

Mr Kesseler said he and his friend were then insulted by strangers as he stood in the street bleeding.

Mr Kesseler said: "There were homophobic comments after the attack from people mulling around outside, saying: 'We do not agree with that LGBTQ stuff.'"

Police and ambulance crews attended came quickly and Mr Kesseler spent several hours at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham being treated for a cut to his eyebrow.

Cops are treating the attack as a potential hate crime.

Mr Kesseler said: "If you feel threatened by a couple who are just holding hands and doing nothing, you have issues.

"The police have a hard job. This has been a growing issue for some time and it's getting worse."

Mr Kesseler tweeted after the attack: "Bottle round my f*****g head for holding another man's hand.

"I am so angry right now. Just outside of the gay scene, our supposed safe space, these cretins feel emboldened enough to do this.

"The worst thing about what happened tonight wasn't, weirdly enough, the bottle round the head, it was the people who saw it happen they try to justify it with, and I am quoting: 'Yeah, but we don't agree with that LGBTQ stuff.'"

West Midlands Police said: "We are investigating after a man was assaulted in a homophobic attack in Birmingham in the early hours of 10 October.

"The 38-year-old man was walking along Holloway Circus, Birmingham when he was approached by another man who attacked him with a glass bottle and an iron bar.

"He was taken to hospital to be treated for injuries to his face and arm and has since been discharged. We have taken an initial statement and have arranged to take a full statement later today (11 October).

"CCTV of the area is being reviewed as our investigations continue.

"We understand that experiencing a hate crime is extremely distressing and upsetting and we want to reassure anyone who is targeted that we will listen, their report will be treated with sensitivity and we will take action.Anyone with information or who witnessed this assault should contact police via Live Chat on our website or by calling 101. Please quote crime reference number 20/1794083/21.