Gay Latvian paramedic dies after being burned alive in horrific “homophobic attack”
A gay man in Tukums, Latvia died on Wednesday April 28 of burns that nearly covered his body after a disgruntled neighbor allegedly sprayed him with flammable liquid.
Normunds Kindzulis, a 29-year-old medical assistant, suffered burns to 85% of his body on April 23 in the sleepy historic town filled with red brick churches and wood carding mills.
But after a scuffle reportedly broke out in the apartment complex he lived in, his clothes were soaked in fuel and set on fire in what defenders urge police to consider a homophobic hate crime.
Another gay man suffered burns as he desperately sought to save Kindzulis as he was engulfed in a fire that razed the building.
Kindzulis was rushed to Riga, the capital of Latvia, for treatment. However, in a tragic twist, the European Association of Pride Organizers confirmed the Twitter Wednesday that he had learned that Kindzulis had died.
He was, according to the group, a “victim of [a] homophobic arson ”.
According to Euractiv, local police initially refused to open an investigation, but Kindzulis’ death prompted an urgent need to do so.
“Bringing someone to the brink of suicide is also a crime,” Officer Andrejs Grishins told reporters on Thursday, the outlet said.
The biography of Kindzulis was once made of strength and vigilance. He had received homophobic death threats in the past and fled to Tukums, some 70 kilometers from Riga.
But in the quiet town, he was faced with all-too-familiar violence. He has been physically assaulted at least four times.
The second victim said Independent News from Tukums, a local newspaper, how the couple reported to authorities how their neighbor threatened and mocked them in the five-story apartment building they lived in.
“We reported these threats both to the police and to the neighbor’s workplace, but there was no reaction,” he said.
“We had to wait for someone to be maimed or killed. “
All the while, on his social media accounts, Kindzulis praised Eurovision, shared photos from his travels and camping trips in Latvia, and looked after his cat.
His death came to reveal the fault lines of Latvia, a member state of the European Union that has long resisted recognition of LGBT + people.
The attack even caught the attention of President Egils Levits, who tweeted that “there is no place for hatred in Latvia”.
However, the Latvian parliament, the Saeima, overwhelmingly voted to amend the constitution to define the family strictly as a “union of one man and one woman” earlier this year.
Activists around the world paid tribute to Kindzulis who, for many, not only signaled the depth of anger felt towards gay people in Latvia, but the very need for pride and the LGBT + rights movement itself.