Young Icelander beaten up for being gay in central Reykjavik

"It's always been in the air. I've always endured all kinds of awful degrading comments. I feel like I've always ben waiting to experience physical violence as well," says Úlfar Viktor Björnsson on being attacked in central Reykjavik on Saturday night. 

Björnsson was attacked for his sexual orientation. "I was walking down Laugavegur with a friend of mine, we were going to grab a taxi and go home, and this man walks towards us, accompanied with another guy, and he asks me, are you a homosexual?"

When Björnsson answered with a "yes" the man punched him in the face. "I was knocked out and there was blood in my mouth. The guy he was with pulled him off me to stop him hitting me again and the guy I was with just froze, and didn't really understand what had happened until afterwards. The worst part was how shocked I was."

In a public Facebook post, Björnsson describes the attack and says he's not angry at the man who hit him but at the community as a whole. "We are allowing hate to grow. Why? Because we believe that this kind of thing doesn't happen in the year 2018, especially in Iceland. We look passed it and the dialogue has stopped.  The saddest part is that I've always been expecting this. We as a society believe that there's no prejudice here because we've come so far with equal rights.  Everything is supposed to be fine here."

He adds that every time he goes out in central Reykjavik he gets harassed. "For looking gay, effeminate, for wearing girly clothes or make-up."

Following his Facebook post he's received a wave of support from strangers. "I was really unsure of whether to publish my story but decided that it was important. I've received tonnes of messages and phonecalls from friends and also from strangers. I'm very thankful for that."

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