Gay couple beaten for refusing to kiss

Melania Geymonat (right) and ChrisImage copyright
Melania Geymonat

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Melania Geymonat (right) and her girlfriend Chris needed hospital treatment

A couple say they were subjected to a homophobic attack and left covered in blood after refusing to kiss on a bus.

Melania Geymonat, 28, said the attack on her and girlfriend Chris happened on the top deck of a London night bus as they were travelling to Camden Town in the early hours of 30 May.

A group of young men began harassing them when they discovered the women were a couple, asking them to kiss while making sexual gestures.

Scotland Yard is investigating.

Officers are “following up” on CCTV footage of the assault, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said.

Ms Geymonat told BBC Radio 4’s World at One she had experienced “a lot of verbal violence”.

But she said she had never been physically attacked because of her sexuality.

Image copyright

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Ms Geymonat says she has not been able to go back to work since the attack

Ms Geymonat said: “They surrounded us and started saying really aggressive stuff, things about sexual positions, lesbians and claiming we could kiss so they could watch us.

“To ease the situation I tried to make some jokes, like Chris wasn’t understanding because she didn’t speak English.

“She even acted as if she was sick… but they started throwing coins. The next thing I know Chris is in the middle of the bus and they are punching her.

“So I immediately went there by impulse and tried to pull her out of there and they started punching me. I was really bleeding.

“The police are extremely good; we are in close touch and they are investigating.”

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Ms Geymonat added that the gang of at least four men might have broken her nose during the ordeal, and stole a phone and bag from them before fleeing.

Both women were taken to hospital for treatment to facial injuries.

Ms Geymonat said one of the men spoke Spanish and the others had British accents.

London mayor Sadiq Khan described the attack as disgusting and misogynistic.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the assault was “absolutely shocking”.

‘Sobering reality check’

By Ben Hunte, BBC LGBT correspondent

This attack is a shocking reminder that even in one of the world’s most accepting and celebrated cities, there is still work to be done to protect LGBT people from harm.

Figures from 2018 from the Met Police showed that attacks on London’s LGBT community have almost doubled since 2014.

Last summer the government launched an LGBT action plan to improve the lives of LGBT people in the UK. Their research found more than two thirds of LGBT people said they had avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner for fear of a negative reaction from others.

As Ms Geymonat mentioned in her Facebook post, the start of June has seen the beginning of LGBT Pride month – a celebration recognised internationally since 1970.

With one of the biggest celebrations due to take place in the capital in just under a month, this is a sobering reality check of why Pride is still needed in 2019.

Siwan Hayward, director of compliance, policing and on-street services at Transport for London, described the assault as “sickening” and “utterly unacceptable”, adding that “homophobic behaviour and abuse is a hate crime and won’t be tolerated on our network”.

Police are appealing for witnesses for the attack which happened at about 02:30 BST on a N31 bus in West Hampstead.

There were 2,308 homophobic hate crimes across London in 2018, compared with 2014 when 1,488 were recorded, according to the Met Police’s crime dashboard.

Det Sgt Anthony Forsyth said there had been a “steady increase in the reporting of all hate crime”, which was partly due to the “growing willingness of victims to report crime and the improved awareness by police”.

Reality Check – How common is homophobic hate crime?

There were 2,101 recorded hate crimes based on sexual orientation in London in the year ending March 2018.

Across England and Wales, the number was 11,638 in that period.

Just over a quarter of these hate crimes involved some form of violence.

The number of hate crimes has close to tripled since the year ending March 2012, the earliest year these figures are available.

Rise in homophobic hate crime

Offences recorded in London

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