Four teenagers were arrested for a homophobic attack against an LGBTQ+ couple on a London night bus last May 30.
The suspects were charged with an aggravated hate crime under the Public Order Act. One of the teens was also charged with handling stolen goods, and another was charged with possession of drugs. The teens were aged 15-to-17 years old. Their court hearing is scheduled on August 21.
Melania Geymonat, a flight attendant for Ryanair, and her partner Chris were traveling home after a night out together. On the bus, the boys saw them kissing, and then suddenly started harassing them.
The boys started calling them names and demanded them to kiss in front of them. Geymonat said that she thought the best way to handle the situation was to take it lightly and make jokes with their assailants.
However, the situation escalated when the boys started throwing coins at them. Afterward, Chris approached the boys, and then the boys began punching her. When Geymonat intervened to save her partner, the boys started hitting her, too. By the end, the boys also robbed them of their belongings.
Geymonat passed out from the assault and woke up on the bus with the police present. The couple was taken to a local hospital. Geymonat’s nose was broken and had to undergo surgery.
Two months ago, Geymonat shared what happened to them on the bus on Facebook. She included a picture of the two of them sitting on the bus and covered with blood. She also shared a detailed account of the assault, both in English and in Spanish.
In the post, she captioned, “I’m tired of being taken as a SEXUAL OBJECT, of finding out that these situations are usual, of gay friends who were beaten up JUST BECAUSE. We have to endure verbal harassment AND CHAUVINIST, MISOGYNISTIC AND HOMOPHOBIC VIOLENCE because when you stand up for yourself, shit like this happens.”
Geymonat emphasized that the London night bus incident was not the first time she experienced homophobia. However, it was the first time she encountered such violence that left her with a broken nose.
Detective Superintendent Andy Cox was handling the case and described that the homophobic act was “disgusting.” He assured the victims that the Metropolitan Police were doing their best to find all suspects in a statement shared two months ago. Last June 7, the police force were appealing for witnesses to come forward with knowledge on the assault.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack and encouraged everyone to work together to remove violence against the LGBT community.
Mayor Sadiq Khan also tweeted about the incident and wrote, “Hate crimes against the LGBT community will not be tolerated in London.”
Increased Crimes Against LGBTQ+
Homophobia in the United Kingdom is still alive and present. British police reported that homophobic hate crimes have doubled in the last five years. From 2017 to 2018, there have been a total of 11,638 reported crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
A few days after the attack on Geymonat and her partner, an object was thrown at actors Lucy Jane Parkinson and Rebecca Banatvala while on their way to the theatre. The couple was holding hands and kissing. Parkinson was struck by the object which knocked her to the ground. The couple reported that they heard boys laughing as a car nearby sped off.
Initially, the couple did not want to take any action against the assailants. However, the couple did make a report to the police and have requested for their help on the incident. Hampshire police were investigating on the attack and had appealed for witnesses to come forward.
On June 22, two gay men were attacked in Liverpool. Three boys, possibly aged between 12 and 15, verbally abused the men with homophobic insults. Afterward, one produced a knife and started attacking the men physically. Both of the men were rushed to the hospital with serious injuries, some in the head and neck.
Merseyside Police is already working on the case. John Bird, one of the organizers of Pride, has spoken against the crime. He said that it was “scary” that young people could be “capable of such hatred” that would lead them to attack others physically.
Aside from assaults, LGBTQ+ people endure endless taunting and name-calling on the internet. Reality star Bobby Norris has organized a petition for a new law to make online homophobia as a special criminal offense.