Northern Ireland

Homophobic attacks: Grieving man's new home targeted

attack north Belfast
Image caption Mr Finlay-Dickson's new home was vandalised at the weekend

A grieving man who has been the target of a series of homophobic attacks has had his new north Belfast home vandalised.

Paul Finlay-Dickson's civil partner, Maurice, died of cancer in January.

He, himself, is ill. Attacks on the couple's home began nearly two years ago.

After his partner's death, Mr Finlay-Dickson had been due to move to a new house in Cosgrave Heights.

However, vandals attacked it at the weekend.

On Saturday, a gang smashed windows and daubed graffiti on the building in Tiger's Bay.

Mr Finlay-Dickson said he now felt too frightened to move in.

Image copyright PAUL-FINLAY DICKSON
Image caption Paul Finlay-Dickson with his civil partner Maurice, who died from cancer

"The house was boarded up, there was black paint above the window," he said.

"On either side of the door they wrote 'pedo'. I'm not a paedophile. I'm a gay man, I'm not a paedophile."

He said he had suffered 15 attacks in the past four months.

"They make me feel as if I am living in fear," he said.

"I am being segregated and attacked because of my sexual orientation.

"I am not the only gay man in Northern Ireland. This is a homophobic hate crime attack. Something needs to be done, I cannot take much more."

Gavin Boyd from the Rainbow Project said he felt a lot of sympathy for Mr Finlay-Dickson in what had been "a very difficult year".

"My heart goes out to Paul," he said.

"It is deeply disconcerting that anyone should have to go through such a sustained period of homophobic attacks and crimes.

"With all kinds of prejudice or hate-based violence, it is about whatever someone can identify as a weak spot - that is something people will prey on."

Mr Boyd called for a joined-up approach from the police, the Housing Executive, politicians and community leaders to tackle homophobic attacks.

"For far too long, people have been putting up with these sustained campaigns of intimidation," he said.

"Police need to adopt a robust response to these kind of crimes."

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said they would make contact with Mr Finlay-Dickson as a matter of urgency to discuss his options.

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