The death of Belgian man whose body was found this week may be the first to be treated as a homophobic killing under Belgium’s new laws.

Belgian news sources are reporting that the body of Ihsane Jarfi was discovered by two hikers after his disappearance on 22 April.

Ihsane Jarfi, 32, had been at a gay bar in Li├Ęge on the night he disappeared. Reports say he left the club and entered a Volkswagen Polo with other men. On Tuesday, his body was found in a field away from a road leading out of the city.

Tetu.com reports that one of the man who was present in the car subsequently used the victim’s phone to send a text message. When he was arrested, he gave the identities of the three other men who had left the bar with them. One is still being sought.

Nieuwsblad.be reports that Edouard Delruelle, adjunct-director of the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism said the organisation would step forward as a civil party if the prosecutor recognises it as a homophobic hate crime.

Vincent Bonhomme, project coordinator at Arc-en-Ciel Wallonie said it would be the first death to be a result of homophobic violence under the 2003 Belgian law which made sexuality an aggravating factor for such offences.

He said: “We suspect the general population and the government underestimate homophobia and we demand the government provide us with a anti-discrimination plan. This probably isn’t the first homophobic murder, but it will be the first one to be officially labeled as such. Since 2006 public prosecutors and police are obliged to mention such motives.”

Two suspects said the deceased man was still alive when they left him in the field, having physically beaten him. RTL reported that they claimed the victim had made a sexual advance. The third suspect denies everything.

Tetu.com reported that the men had been charged with robbery, forcible confinement and assault causing death without intention, with homophobic intent possibly forming an aggravating factor.