Chile: Gay man beaten into a coma in homophobic attack
A gay man has been beaten so badly that he is in a coma in Chile, in the latest in a spate of hate crimes to have rocked the country in recent months.
According to a report by Queer.de, on Sunday 20 October a 21-year-old was so badly beaten up in San Francisco de Mostazal that he has since been in a coma. His prognosis is not optimistic.
Wladimir Sepúlveda was walking arm-in-arm with three friends through the town centre after visiting the beach, when a group of four men and two women asked him if he had a cigarette lighter. Then the group started to deliver insults, saying: “We will massacre you queers.”
Following a brief scuffle, Wladimir initially managed to flee, but was caught up by the attackers and punched to the ground. Then he was repeatedly kicked in the head. By the time his friends reached him, he was already unconscious.
Despite an urgent call to the emergency services, it took an ambulance thirty minutes to arrive, and even then it had only one attendant. His friends had to put Wladimir, who was seriously injured, onto a stretcher. At the Accident and Emergency Department, a doctor diagnosed only minor injuries. It was only when he was taken to another hospital that he received immediate treatment.
Chile’s Minister for Health has in the meantime visited the young man in hospital and has promised that there would be an investigation into these events. As the injuries were initially diagnosed as minor, the attackers were not arrested immediately: this did not happen until four days later.
The young man’s condition has not improved since his admission to hospital. The Minister for Health has announced that, because of his serious head injuries and bleeding in the brain, it is not expected that he will improve. The LGBT organisation Movilh, which represents Wladimir’s family, has criticised the police and the health service.
Four men were last week convicted for the killing of Daniel Zamudio, a gay Chilean man who died following the Neo-Nazi attack last year. They await sentencing which is expected this week.
The hate crime bill had languished in Congress for over seven years, but was finally fast-tracked to approval after the attack. It cleared its final hurdle with a 25-3 vote in the Senate. This prompted supporters to compare Mr Zamudio to murdered Wyoming teen Matthew Shepard.