Fontainas, a cafe in central Brussels that could best be described as the headquarters of the city’s gay community, is shut down this week. Its doors have been closed since an incident Sunday night that sent a man to the hospital with severe stab wounds.
News of the attack, which has been spreading like wildfire through social media all week, seems to have left the city’s gay community shocked yet unsurprised at the same time. The storyline has become a familiar one in Brussels. Three drunk men entered the café, began hurling homophobic abuse at the people inside, and before long a violent altercation ensued. The details of what took place are still unclear, but the incident was serious enough to shut the doors of this Brussels landmark since Sunday. And although homophobic attacks are unfortunately common in Brussels city centre - an area of the city that is known for its crime and grime - this incident has still caused huge shock because the establishment is so well-known. Even the soon-to-be Belgian prime minister, who is openly gay, can often be seen there.
A movement has been growing to try to pressure the city authorities to do more to keep the city centre safe since a gay-bashing attack in June that many saw as the straw that broke the camel's back. A man was beaten by a group of young men near the Bourse (stock exchange), just next to Grand Place, because he was gay and behaving in an effeminate manner.