The death of a homosexual man in Latvia, whose clothes were soaked with a flammable liquid and set on fire, shocked the Baltic country on Thursday. The death of Normunds Kindzulis (29) is seen by many as the result of a homosexual attack. The police in the former Soviet Republic are accused of doing too little to combat homophobic violence.
Kindzulis, a paramedic, suffered a total of 85 percent of his body a week ago and succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday. In the past, he often received death threats because of his sexual orientation, which was also the reason for him to move from the capital Riga to the provincial town of Tukums, according to local media. There, however, he was already physically attacked four times.
According to local media, police failed to investigate the violence. Police do not rule out the fact that Kindzulis has put an end to his life because of the death threats. “Driving someone to suicide is also a crime,” said a high Latvian police commissioner to reporters on Thursday.
The Kindzulis case has launched a debate on homophobia in Latvia, a Member State of the European Union with some 2 million inhabitants. In 2006, the country specifically adapted the Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. In addition to gay rights organisations, President Egils Levits, a former judge at the European Court of Justice, has also spoken about homophobia in his country. “There is no place for hatred in Latvia,” Levits said.
Kindzulis was found burning outside his home in the early hours of last Friday by a colleague and roommate, who is still in the hospital. “I woke up from screams in the hallway,” he said to a Latvian news site. “I tried to extinguish the flames, carried him inside and put him in the bathtub, but the burns were too severe. His clothes were fused with his skin.”
The local police initially refused to conduct an official investigation. “There is insufficient evidence that a crime has occurred,” said it in a statement. However, due to the death of Kindzulis, the police are now obliged to investigate the case. There is also an investigation after the police in Tukums, because they allegedly dealt with the earlier threats to Kindzulis address too lax.
Do you need help? Then contact the Suicide Assistance and Prevention Line. Talk about it. Tel: 0800-0113 (free), 113 (regular rate) or www.113.nl.