Two women who were left covered in blood following a homophobic attack on a bus have said they will not be cowed into hiding their sexuality.
Melania Geymonat, 28, and Chris, 29, say they were attacked by several males on the top deck of a London night bus in the early hours of 30 May after they refused to kiss one other.
Both women were treated in hospital for facial injuries.
Four male teenagers aged between 15 and 18 have been arrested.
Asked whether the attack left her less willing to show affection in public, Chris, who lives in north London but is originally from the US, said: “I am not scared about being visibly queer.
“If anything, you should do it more.”
Ms Geymonat, who is a doctor but currently works for Ryanair as a stewardess, said she agreed.
Chris said: “I was and still am angry. It was scary, but this is not a novel situation.”
Over the five years to 2018, reported homophobic hate crimes across London have increased from 1,488 in 2014 to 2,308 in 2018, according to the Met Police’s crime dashboard.
Chris added: “A lot of people’s rights and basic safety are at risk. I want people to feel emboldened to stand up to the same people who feel emboldened by the right-wing populism that is, I feel, responsible for the escalation in hate crimes.
“I want people to take away from this that they should stand up for themselves and each other.”
Ms Geymonat, who lives in Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire but is originally from Uruguay, said she felt the violence had not been directed at them only because they are “women who are dating each other, but also because we are women”.
The Met Police said the four teenagers were arrested on suspicion of committing aggravated grievous bodily harm and robbery.
They have been taken to separate London police stations for questioning.
Rise in homophobic hate crime
Offences recorded in London
Officers are continuing to appeal for witnesses and information after the women were assaulted and robbed on a route N31 bus in Camden.
Det Supt Andy Cox described the attack as “disgusting”.
Bus operator Metroline said there was CCTV footage of the attack and it was co-operating with police, who have said they are “following up” on footage of the assault.