Police in London have arrested four teenagers after an alleged homophobic attack on two gay women on a public bus, reports the Guardian. The high-profile incident already has drawn the condemnation of some of Britain's biggest public officials. The women say the men harassed them with lewd comments, ordered them to kiss, then physically assaulted them when they refused. The details:
- Melania Geymonat, 28, says she and her girlfriend, Chris, were on a date on May 30 and were riding on the top deck of a double-decker bus when the group of young men figured out they were a same-sex couple. "They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we [kiss] so they could enjoy watching, calling us 'lesbians' and describing sexual positions," Geymonat wrote in a Facebook post. The post includes an image of the women with bloodied faces.
- Geymonat, who also spoke to the BBC, says she tried to lighten the mood with jokes, but then Chris started getting beaten, and so she jumped into the fray herself. "The next thing I know is I'm being punched," she writes. "I got dizzy at the sight of my blood and fell back," she adds. "I don't remember whether or not I lost consciousness."
- A police statement says the women were punched several times and that a bag and phone were stolen from them. Later, the police said "four males aged between 15 to 18 have been arrested ... on suspicion of robbery and aggravated GBH," referring to grievous bodily harm. Police say the women were treated at the hospital for facial injuries. Investigators were reviewing unreleased CCTV footage from the bus.
- “This was a disgusting attack on two women who appear to have been picked out and targeted by a group of youths,” said Detective Superintendent Andy Cox. “When the women tried to reason with the group, the attack escalated to an assault.”
- The incident was drawing widespread condemnation. "This was a sickening attack and my thoughts are with the couple affected," said Prime Minister Theresa May. "Hate crimes against the LGBT+ community will not be tolerated in London," Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted Friday, while Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn deemed the attack "absolutely shocking."
- The New York Times reports that attacks in London against members of the LGBT community reached 2,308 in 2018, up from 1,488 in 2014.
- Geymonat is a flight attendant and native of Uruguay. "I don’t know yet if my nose is broken, and I haven’t been able to go back to work," she wrote in her online post, "but what upsets me the most is that VIOLENCE HAS BECOME A COMMON THING, that sometimes it’s necessary to see a woman bleeding after having been punched to feel some kind of impact."
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