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'Hate crime' at Danish gay games

29 July 09 22:18 GMT

A Dane has been charged with committing a hate crime for allegedly throwing fireworks at athletes during a gay sporting event in Copenhagen.

He is accused of throwing fireworks into the Oesterbro stadium where the World Outgames running competitions were being held.

One US athlete suffered a light injury to his hand.

The attack marks the second suspected hate crime at the Outgames after three men were assaulted in the street.

In the stadium incident, the alleged perpetrator was apprehended by runners from the Sparta Athletes club as he attempted to escape.

The 31-year-old suspect told a court he had thrown only one firework against a wall and had not intended to harm the athletes.

Copenhagen Police commissioner Poul B Hansen told the Danish newspaper Politiken it would be surprising if the accused had been unaware the event was for gay people.

"We are certain it was no coincidence that he threw the fireworks where he did - but it is, of course, up to the judge to decide if we are right," he added.

The suspect was remanded in custody for 13 days.

'Tolerant city'

On Sunday, three gay men from Sweden, Norway and the UK were treated in hospital following an attack by youths in the street.

The attackers have been charged with hate crimes.

Copenhagen's openly gay deputy mayor Klaus Bondam denounced the attacks.

"I am actually surprised that this has happened. I would have thought Copenhagen would have been more welcoming towards gays and lesbians from around the world," he told the BBC.

"World Outgames have invited people from countries where you can receive the death penalty for being gay. These attacks shows the importance of organising a gay sporting event, to further people's understanding of homosexuality" he added.

Some 5,500 participants from 98 countries are in Copenhagen for eight days of sport and culture to promote rights for homosexuals worldwide.

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