Just days after the body of a gay man was found beaten and burned to death in Scotland, two patrons at a gay bar in Leicester, England, were set on fire. Both survived the attack, which took place at the Rainbow and Dove on Charles Street after midnight on Wednesday, but one victim has suffered serious burns to his face and has been placed on a respirator at Nottingham City Hospital. The other received less serious burns to his hands.
Detective Inspector Simon Preston told the Leicester Mercury:
“We are in the very early stages of our investigation, and from initial enquiries we are treating the incident as an assault, but we are looking into the circumstances surrounding the incident and the events leading up to it. Incidents of this nature are extremely rare and we would like to reassure people that we will leave no stone unturned.”
Currently listed as being in stable condition, the two victims, 20 and 22, were doused with an unknown flammable liquid in the pub’s beer garden and then set afire, some time around 12.40am. A 24-year-old man was questioned and released after being ruled out, and authorities are now looking for another man, whose image was caught on CCTV (at left).
Despite the location and nature of the attack, police do not currently believe it was a hate crime.
“At this stage there is no evidence to suggest that this incident was homophobically motivated or that the victims were specifically targeted,” said Inspector Preston, “but we are looking into the circumstances surrounding the incident and the events leading up to it.”
Leicester’s LGBT community is rallying behind both the victims and the bar. A message posted on the Rainbow and Dove Facebook page reads, in part:
A big thank you to everyone for all your messages and support. I knew we had a strong gay community in Leicester but Ive been so touched by the flood of well wishes and support for not only Robert and Russell but also our team of staff that make it happen everyday at Dover Castle, Helsinki and Rainbow & Dove…
I’m back at the Hospital today, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so, if you have any cards or gifts, (Ive already got a bag full which is amazing), I leave at 1pm each day, all you need to do is leave these at the Rainbow & Dove on the back bar and you can be assured that these will be passed on.
Again, thanks so much to everyone for being so supportive and I hope to see you all at our Special Vigil on Friday with Leicestershire Rainbow Voices.
Source: Leicester Mercury