Mauro Padovani, 46, and Tom Freeman, 59, have been dealing with harassment from their homophobic neighbors for over four years. But this week, things escalated and got extremely serious when both of them were left bloody and battered from an altercation with the couple. When a straight Bulgarian/Croatian couple moved into the neighborhood four years ago they immediately informed Padovani and Freeman that they “hate gays” according to Italian news outlet Genova Today. The gay couple, who lives in Belgium, has endured arguments, being punched, bricks being thrown at them, basically making their lives a living hell.
Padovani shared with Genova that the ‘neighbors’ instigated an argument when the woman spat on their window in the parking area. When Freeman went to confront her that is when things got worse. Padovani got out of the car with a steering wheel lock and the male neighbor took it from him and began hitting them with it. Freeman, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago, suffered two crushed vertebrae while Padovani was left with a concussion.
Police finally intervened and the straight couple was arrested. Dutch news outlet HLN identified the woman as 21-year-old, Yesmina R. who has been ordered to stay away from the gay couple for at least a month. She picked up her 1-year-old child and left her apartment immediately escorted by police. According to HLN, she appeared in court in 2015 with allegations of theft with violence. Her partner is in jail for assault and is awaiting trial. They are waiting to hear if this will be considered a hate crime which would give the assaulters the maximum penalty.
The battered couple took to Facebook to share images of their gruesome attack seeking support and comfort from friends and family. They quickly received kind wishes and their story has been gaining international attention.