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French marriage-equality supporter, 18, dies after vicious beating by skinheads

PARIS – A gay-marriage supporter died Thursday after being viciously bashed by three skinheads just days after France approved marriage equality.

Clément Méric, 18, a student at Sciences Po in Paris, was attacked Wednesday evening near the Saint-Lazare train station in the French capital, according to police. The skinheads, two men and a woman, jumped the teenager and one of the attackers struck Méric in the head with a knuckle-duster. Méric fell to the ground and his head crashed against the pavement, leaving him unconscious.

Méric was taken to a local hospital, where he was placed on life support and declared brain-dead.

Claire Cosquer, a friend of Méric’s, called his death a “murder” and blamed the anti-gay violence on “a very worrying rise of radical far-right movements” in France, according to the media.

The marriage-equality debate in France was quickly hijacked by the Far Right and radicals, and along with conservatives and the Catholic Church, took to the streets with protests that have turned violent.

President Francois Hollande, who pushed for marriage equality, condemned the attack on Méric and vowed the justice would be served.

Méric apparently got caught up in a brawl between skinheads and young leftists, according to Le Monde. Several people have been arrested in connection with the assault, including the suspect who decked Méric with the knuckle-duster and causing what would become fatal injuries.

Some of the suspects have ties to the Nationalist Revolutionary Youth (JNR) movement, police said, but the group’s leader denies that they are members. The JNR are skinhead neo-Nazis and are led by Serge Ayoub, whose nickname is “Batskin” because he often uses a baseball bat, according to authorities. The JNR are tied to a much bigger Far Right group called Third Way that opposes both capitalism and communism.