Five young men have been arrested for the homophobic attack and robbery inflicted on two women when they refused to kiss on a London bus.
Four males aged between 15 and 18 were arrested on suspicion of robbery and grievous bodily harm on Friday, and a fifth boy, who is 16 years old, was arrested on Saturday morning. All five suspects have since been released on bail. The Metropolitan Police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack but continue to ask witnesses to come forward with any information concerning the alleged assault and robbery.
The attack, which occurred in the early hours of May 30, took place on the London N31 night bus, travelling from West Hampstead to Camden Town. The two women, Melania Geymonat, and her girlfriend Chris, were taken to hospital for treatment of their facial injuries following the incident.
It was reported that the group of young men began harassing the two women when they discovered they were a couple, asking them to kiss and making other sexual gestures and slurs. Geymonat posted about the event on her Facebook profile, commenting that the men behaved like “hooligans” and that they threw money at the couple before they began punching them. Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Andy Cox described the situation as “a disgusting attack on two women who appear to have been picked out and targeted by a group of youths”.
BBC Radio 4’s World At One interviewed the couple this week, where they expressed their anger about the incident, particularly because it “isn’t a novel situation.”, “I know that there is a lot of violence, horrible violence, all the time. That’s the thing that made me tell the story” Geymonat said. She added that she had previously experienced “a lot of verbal violence”, but she had never been subject to a physical attack because of her sexuality. The couple encouraged others within the LGBTQI community to continue to stand up for themselves and those around them. “I am not scared about being visibly queer. If anything, you should do it more” Chris said.
Geymonat’s Facebook post, which included an image of herself and Chris covered in blood following the attack, attracted extensive media and political attention. British Prime Minister Theresa May commented that “this was a sickening attack and my thoughts are with the couple affected.”, “Nobody should ever have to hide who they are or who they love, and we must work together to eradicate unacceptable violence towards the LGBT community.” she added. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also expressed his support, stating “we must not, and will not, accept this homophobic and misogynist violence in our society.”
The attack appears to be representative of a general trend in the London area. According to the Metropolitan Police’s crime dashboard, reported homophobic hate crimes across London have increased from 1,488 in 2014 to 2,308 in 2018.