Wilfred de Bruijn blames the rhetoric of gay marriage foes for increasing the number of homophobic attacks in France.

De Bruijn was brutally beaten near his Paris home on Sunday morning. His boyfriend, who was also beaten up, told the AP that three or four men beat de Bruijn unconscious.

“Hey, look they're gays,” the boyfriend remembers hearing before they were attacked.

As senators debated the “marriage for all” legislation on Wednesday, several thousand people demonstrated outside Paris City Hall carrying images of de Bruijn's battered face. The demonstrators claim that homophobic acts – verbal and physical – have tripled nationwide since the legislation was introduced last year.

(Related: French Senate approves adoption for gay couples.)

“I certainly feel there's been an increase in homophobia,” De Bruijn told the AP. “What [members of the anti-gay marriage campaign] are saying is that they're not homophobic: Lesbians and gays are nice people, but don't let them get close to children – that's very dangerous. It's OK for them to live together, but not like other couples with the same protection because it's not really the same thing.”

“These people are all professionals of the spoken word,” he continued. “They know very well what can happen if you repeat, repeat, repeat that these people are lower human beings. Of course, it will have a result.”

Frigide Barjot, the actress-activists who has led the opposition, insisted her movement was non-violent.

“We don't want violence,” she told RMC radio on Wednesday. “We denounce this violence and these acts. We have nothing to do with [Catholic] fundamentalists or extremists.”

De Bruijn disagreed: “It was not Frigide Barjot who was hitting my head, or the bishop of Avignon lurking in that street to attack us. But they are responsible.”