Police investigates Grindr profile threatening attack in Belgian gay bars
Police in Belgium is investigating an anonymous Grindr profile that has threatened an attack on gay bars in the city of Ostend.
A number of concerned members of the public reported the profile to the authorities on Tuesday (March 19) night, the Brussels Times reported.
The threatening anonymous user—whose name simply reads Aanslag, the Dutch word for “attack”—stated that the LGBT+ community should “prepare” and that the attack would be carried out “tonight or this weekend” in Ostend, naming two popular gay bars in the region—Valentino and Your Place.
“Nobody can stop us. We are 27 people.”
— Threat shared on Grindr
The threat added: “Nobody can stop us. We are 27 people.”
Kenneth Fonteyne, a DJ working at the Valentino venue, said the threat was particularly concerning after terrorist attacks in New Zealand last week resulted in the deaths of 50 Muslims.
“The gay community is all too often targeted and this homophobia must stop. In the meantime, the managers have filed a complaint with the police,” he told Belgian news outlet HLN.
Prosecutor Frank Demeester told the Brussels Times that it is not yet known if the message was a joke or if it should be taken seriously. “But of course we are on the lookout,” Demeester added.
Meanwhile, police said they were aware of the threat and said there would be increased supervision in the gay bars in the coming days.
Terrorist attacks are ‘very likely’ in Belgium
The UK government notes in its travel advice that terrorists are “very likely to carry out attacks in Belgium,” saying they could happen “anywhere, including on public transport and transport hubs and in other places visited by foreigners.”
The country was hit by a number of terrorist attacks in 2016. Two blasts occurred in the Zaventem airport in March 2016 and killed 11 people. A third explosion in a metro station left another 20 people dead.
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Despite the high terror alerts, Belgium is considered one of the most liberal countries in Europe – and in the world – for LGBT+ rights.
Belgium legalised same-sex sexual activity in 1795 and introduced domestic partnership benefits in 2000.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Belgium in 2003, making it just the second country in the world to make the move.
While Belgium is known as being progressive when it comes to LGBT+ rights, last year, Jaimie Deblieck, who had been crowned Mr Gay Belgium, was violently beaten and called anti-gay slurs in his hometown.
Deblieck was called a “f**king homo” and other offensive terms during the attack, in which he was stomped on and kicked by his attacker. He was not left with permanent injuries from the incident.