As part of the Pridefestival, more than 100 people marched against homophobic violence on Friday. The march left the place Fontainas in Brussels at 9pm and arrived at the place Albertine, also in Brussels, at 11pm. It was an initiative by the Ihsane Jarfi Foundation, which was created in memory of the young man of the same name. Ihsane Jarfi, who was in his thirties, was kidnapped by four young men on the 22nd of April 2012. He was leaving a nightclub in Liège. His body was found in a field on the 1st of May. A charity evening for the Foundation was organised at the Rainbow House, to help the fight against discrimination. While Pride celebrates the freedom to be whatever we want to be, the march also denounces the consequences of having this freedom taken away. Applause from onlookers in the “gay quarter” became silence and several insults in other areas. Political representatives of the PS and Green Party were present. Lanterns were lit and sent into the sky at the end of the march.
Ihsane Jarfi’s father reminded people that the important thing about the march was being seen in the street. As a former RE teacher and a Muslim, he spoke about education’s role in helping people learn to accept differences. “Even today, opening showing a sexual orientation that differs from the norm in public is exposing yourself to insults and violence”, says François Massoz-Fouillien, spokesman for the Rainbow House.
“Common sense says it is best to avoid showing yourself too much, and just be yourself in private. But, that takes away their freedom to exist…. The more sexist and macho the domain, the more homophobia will be part of the group culture, which means homophobic jokes are more accepted. Marc Wilmots, for example, insulted one of his players during the World Cup, saying “stop being a Jeanette”, which means “poofter” in Dutch. There was no reaction in the press. If it had been a racist insult, there would have been a much bigger reaction”, says Mr Massoz-Fouillien.