A man has been arrested on suspicion of carrying out a homophobic attack on a gay man with a glass bottle in Birmingham’s Gay Village.
John-Paul Kesseler was walking back to a hotel in the early hours of 10 October when a man approached him and his friend and told them they shouldn’t be holding hands.
Kesseler was left covered in blood after he was hit across the head with a glass bottle. There was widespread shock and outrage when he shared a picture showing his injuries on social media.
West Midlands Police arrested a man on Thursday (21 October) on suspicion of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
In a statement, investigating officers said they analysed CCTV footage and quickly identified a suspect after the attack. Police subsequently tried to arrest the suspect on a number of occasions at various addresses and officers carried out other enquiries in a bid to track him down.
The suspect finally handed himself into police just before 11.30am on Thursday morning, officers said.
Birmingham police believe attack on gay man was ‘motivated by hate’
James Littlehales, Birmingham Police superintendent, said investigators believe the “nasty attack” was “motivated by hate”.
“Hate crime and keeping people safe in our nightlife centres are priorities for us,” Littlehales said.
“Everyone should feel safe and comfortable to be who they are, we will not tolerate anyone being targeted in this way.
“This sort of offence is totally unacceptable and offenders must understand we take it extremely seriously and that they face time in prison.”
Police said they are continuing to investigate a number of other suspected homophobic hate crimes that have occurred in and around the city’s Gay Village in recent weeks. Investigators said they are “determined to get justice for victims”.
John-Paul Kesseler said he was “very grateful for all the hard work the police have put in” to the investigation on Twitter shortly after West Midlands Police announced that they had made an arrest.
Very grateful for all the hard work the police have put in, which has resulted in this today. https://t.co/oBUOImlI9n
— JP (@jpkesseler) October 21, 2021
Kesseler is just one of many queer people to have been assaulted in Birmingham in recent weeks and months. A married gay couple were beaten with bottles and required hospital treatment in August after they were targeted in the Gay Village.
In early October, Matt Brooks was left in need of emergency surgery to save his eyesight after he was punched in the face in the Gay Village.
The spate of attacks has led to increased police patrols and a £200,000 injection of funding to support victims of hate crime in Birmingham.
City officials are also considering introducing 24-hour public transport in the city in an effort to clamp down on homophobic hate crimes.
Birmingham residents are staging a protest in the city on Sunday (24 October) to show solidarity with LGBT+ people who have been targeted in violent hate crimes.
Protesters will gather at 1pm in the “Pagoda Island” Chinese Garden in Holloway Circus, which is just outside Birmingham’s LGBT Centre. The demonstration will mark the second protest against anti-LGBT+ attacks in the city in recent weeks.
The protest has been organised by a group calling itself Birmingham Against LGBTQI Hate. In a press release, Salman Mirza – who orgnaised the first protest – said: “The protest is a sign of solidarity. We’re basically saying: ‘This is absolutely not acceptable and we will not tolerate it.’
“We are united against this type of bigotry. We’re also very angry. Why is this going on? You don’t have to be part of the LGBTQ+ community to stand against these crimes.”