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Dublin: 18 °C Wednesday 27 May, 2020
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'I've had enough' - Dublin victim speaks out after homophobic assault

Dublin nightclub promoter Buzz O’Neill was attacked by four men outside The George in Dublin on Thursday.

Image: informatique via Flickr/Creative Commons

“HOMOPHOBIA IS ALIVE and well in Ireland.”

That is the message being spread by Buzz O’Neill after he experienced it first-hand while on a night out with friends in Dublin this week.

The well-known businessman and nightclub promoter was attacked by four men outside The George at about 1.15am Thursday morning. He suffered bruising and minor injuries. He recalls: “I left The George before it ended with a friend. We walked to the corner, where we stopped to chat as we were going in different directions.

“We kissed each other goodnight and a person from the back of a taxi shouted ‘fucking faggot’ out the window.

“I told him to ‘mind his own business’ but he spat at me. I wasn’t going to walk away from that so I responded. They piled out of the taxi. One of them came out the door of the taxi, and another came out the other side and approached me from behind. That one punched me.

“Thankfully the staff from The George were able to intervene.”

Gardaí have opened an investigation into the assault and CCTV footage of the incident has been gathered. The suspects are described as young men in their early 20s.

“Unfortunately, it is not an isolated incident,” O’Neill told TheJournal.ie. “Many of these attacks go unreported so I decided to come forward and speak about it. I’ve had enough. I’m saying ‘No’.”

According to O’Neill, he could name at least ten friends who have been beaten up as a result of a hate crime in the past five years.

“Since Wednesday, I’ve heard from even more people,” he continues. “There is a fear of speaking out so they go unreported. People would be more inclined to come forward if they were regular assaults. In Ireland, we have no legislation which adequately covered hate crime.”

Currently, France is experiencing a surge in homophobic assaults as the same-sex marriage debate receives widespread media and political coverage.

The Irish debate on gay marriage is something that is also “niggling” at O’Neill right now.

“These organisations that preach against gay marriage, they are preaching an anti-gay rhetoric. They have to be held accountable. In a twisted way, it gives these people a mandate,” he says.

This weekend, the Constitutional Convention will vote on whether to make a recommendation to the government to provide marriage equality.

Regardless of the outcome, O’Neill believes that Ireland still needs a “proper debate” about gay rights.

“This government could legislate for gay marriage tomorrow if there was political will. They are looking for someone else to tell them, ‘You should do this’. They shouldn’t need the Constitutional Convention to tell them. Common sense should do that.”

As the garda investigation continues, O’Neill must return to his job at the front of Dublin’s most popular gay nightclubs. He runs FAG in the Button Factory, as well as Bukkake and Sunday Social in Four Dame Lane.

“It has knocked my confidence, no doubt,” he admits. “But I have to get back out there.”

Earlier today, Buzz tweeted an image of his eye with the message: “Swelling gone down.. Blackening up nicely! #yestolove”

Homophobic assaults surge in France amid gay marriage debate

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