Peter Regier and his partner were returning to their Keefer Place home on June 12 when he says two men hurled “a barrage” of homophobic slurs at them, then physically attacked them.
Regier says he and David Holtzman arrived at their condo doorstep to find two men drinking. One of them began urinating near the door.
“David objected and said, ‘Do you really need to pee there? I live here, this is my building,'” Regier recalls.
The two men turned on them, repeatedly calling them “fucking faggots” and “cocksuckers,” Holtzman says.
It was “non-stop invective” that developed into an attack, Regier says.
“I want to make this clear; this was not a fight,” Regier told Xtra on June 14. “This was on our doorstep. We were attacked and savagely beaten,” he alleges.
“One attacked me first. The other went for David.”
“I was huddled up in a fetal position,” Holtzman says. “That’s how vicious the attack was. I was on my back, he hit me in the back of the head at least 50 times.”
“I went down as well,” adds Regier.
He says the men eventually fled because a couple of witnesses moved closer as the attack unfolded.
“Thank God for good witnesses who care and aren’t afraid to get involved,” he says.
Regier was eventually able to call 911 and the police arrived within minutes.
He says he and Holtzman were taken to St Paul’s for treatment. They both have concussions. Holtzman was also bitten during the attack.
“He had a CT scan. We thought he has a brain injury, and there’s still something a bit wrong with his vision, so we’re monitoring that,” Regier says.
Regier says the initial police response was great, but he’s concerned about the follow-up.
“Our expectation is that they will follow up all leads, that they will investigate this thoroughly and professionally, and that they will consider the assault and the hate aspect of this incident,” Regier says.
“They were giving what I would think would be mixed messages whether they would follow up on the leads, and that’s not acceptable,” he contends.
“It’s now the time to act and respond strongly to this,” he says. “We are hopeful these guys will be found and charges laid.”
So far, no arrests have been made in connection with the incident, Vancouver police say.
“We are in the process of assigning detectives to the file, and they’ll be following up with them very shortly, I imagine,” says Lindsey Houghton, a Vancouver police spokesperson.
Police are looking for two suspects of East Indian descent. Both men are in their 20s, about six feet tall, with short hair. One was wearing a blue shirt with jeans, the other a white shirt with jeans.
“We’re hoping that the public will be able to assist us in possibly identifying them,” Houghton says.
There were a number of witnesses to the incident, Houghton adds, but declines to say how many.
“Everyone has been very cooperative with us,” he notes.
Initial media reports suggested that an Ultimate Fighting Championship event which took place the same night at GM Place, located near the gay couple’s residence, may have fuelled the attack. But Houghton says there’s nothing to indicate the event had anything to do with the attack.
Meanwhile, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson conveyed his “sympathies and deep concern” to Regier and Holtzman in a June 14 statement about the attack.
Robertson says aggression against the gay community is “completely unacceptable.”
“I am very troubled and saddened by the assault of two citizens Saturday night in what clearly appears to be an incident of physical and verbal aggression against citizens for who they are,” Robertson says.
“There is zero tolerance for any action or behaviour that discriminates or harms people for their beliefs, ethnicity or sexuality,” he continues.
“We all must take a strong stand against this type of behaviour, as the courts have recently done in ruling a similar incident as a hate crime,” Robertson adds.
On April 30, a BC Supreme Court judge ruled Michael Kandola’s 2008 assault on Jordan Smith was a hate crime.
Smith had been walking hand in hand with another man on Davie St when Kandola and a group of men called them “fucking faggots” and asked “What the fuck is this?”
When Smith turned back to confront the men, they swarmed him, then Kandola knocked him unconscious with a sucker punch to the jaw. The judge found anti-gay hatred fuelled the offence.
Regier says the attack on Holtzman and himself, as well as other incidents of homophobic violence, “points to the need for greater anti-homophobia education and training and other measures to promote inclusion and acceptance.”