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Two gay men burned in Latvia in homophobic hate crime

Two gay men in Latvia have been burned in an apparent homophobic attack, following alleged harassment and threats from a neighbour.

The crime was initially reported by authorities as a pile of burning clothes, according to Out.

One of the victims, known as Artis, told press that his roommate had been set alight after threats from a neighbour that police chose not to act about.

Artis said he was woken by his friend’s screams in the early hours of the morning last week and was injured in trying to help him.

The other victim remains in hospital with life-threatening burns to most of his body.

The neighbour who allegedly perpetrated the attack had been accused of making homophobic threats against the men, demanding that they move out of the city.

A representative of the State Police confirmed that authorities had received reports of the harassment late last year but decided not to pursue the case.

“Following examination of this information, a decision was taken to refuse to initiate criminal proceedings and no appeal was lodged against this decision,” said the spokesperson.

They also confirmed two people were burned and that now “criminal proceedings have been initiated and an active investigation is underway”.

President Egils Levits took to social media to speak out against the crime, posting that “there is no place for hatred in Latvia” and that tolerance is a “value of Latvian society”, with hatred a “crime against society”.

Homosexuality is legal in the Baltic state, but same-sex relationships are unrecognised and public opinion is largely against the LGBTIQ community.

Only limited and recent laws exist to protect LGBTIQ individuals from discrimination.

A recent international review of human rights reported that a “trend of politicians verbally attacking [LGBTIQ] people has grown sizably” in Latvia and surrounding countries.

Latvia is among many countries that still have mediocre ratings for safety for LGBTIQ people.

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