Northern Ireland

Homophobic attacks 'force grieving man from Belfast home'

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Media captionPaul Finlay-Dickson spoke to the BBC News NI's Rick Farragher

A grieving man who has been the target of a series of homophobic attacks and death threats has said he can no longer live in his north Belfast home.

Paul Finlay-Dickson, whose civil partner Maurice died of cancer last month, said the attacks began 18 months ago and continued through his illness.

In one attack, faeces was pushed through the letter box of their home.

Paul said gangs of youths regularly make threats, bang on his windows and doors and throw eggs at his house.

Image copyright PAUL FINLAY-DICKSON
Image caption A family photo of Paul Finlay-Dickson with his civil partner Maurice who died of cancer last month

He said a rainbow flag, representing the gay rights movement that Maurice had requested to be draped on his coffin, was also ripped down from outside their home and covered in faeces.

Police have said they are investigating complaints ranging from threats to kill to harassment and criminal damage.

At one point, Paul said a fake memorial card was put through his door, announcing his own death, and was opened by his terminally ill partner.

The couple celebrated their civil partnership last November, seven weeks before Maurice died, at the age of 41.

Paul told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme that the attacks were still taking place at a time when he was "grieving and coming to terms with losing my husband".

He said he did not know how the youths who are carrying out the attacks could sleep at night and added their families should be "ashamed".

"They're not kids, they are young men and they are targeting someone who is grieving for someone who died of terminal cancer," Paul added.

Gavin Boyd from the Rainbow Project told the programme that his organisation works very closely with the police and housing authorities on cases where members of the gay community are being victimised and intimidated in their own homes.

"We can work with the Housing Executive to get that intimidation recognised, to get the [housing allocation] points that they need to be moved further up the list to make their case a priority and to get them moved into a more safe and appropriate location," he said.

"We can't allow these cases to just keep carrying on, it has too much of an impact, not only just on the individuals who are directly involved but their family, their friends, everyone who knows them."

Supt Paula Hillman said police were aware of a number of reports made by a resident in north Belfast since August 2013.

"These reports vary in nature and investigations have been conducted and local neighbourhood police officers have been in contact with and continue to liaise with the victim," she added.

"As with any incident reported the victim is updated and signposted to additional support services where applicable."