Five boys aged between 15 and 18 have been arrested over an attack on a lesbian couple in a London bus this week. Police in London said Saturday a 16-year-old boy who was detained in connection to the attack was the fifth person to be arrested over the attack. The four others who have been detained were between the ages of 15 and 18, the police said.
Melania Geymonat, a 28-year-old doctor from Uruguay who works as a Ryanair flight attendant and Chris, her 29-year-old American girlfriend, recounted the attack earlier in the week, saying it happened when the two refused to kiss one another in front of a group of young men who were harassing them. The women said they were riding the night bus early on May 30 when the group of men started harassing them. “They surrounded us and started saying really aggressive stuff, things about sexual positions, lesbians and claiming we could kiss so they could watch us,” Geymonat said, adding that she tried to decompress the situation by making some jokes but that didn’t help. The teenagers then began throwing coins at them. “The next thing I know Chris is in the middle of the bus and they are punching her,” she added. “So I immediately went there by impulse and tried to pull her out of there and they started punching me. I was really bleeding.”
A photo that has since gone viral shows the two women covered in blood. Police said they were taken to the hospital for treatment of facial injuries but have since been released. “I was and still am angry. It was scary, but this is not a novel situation,” Chris said. In a Facebook post, Geymonat wrote that what upset her 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.” She added: “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.”
“This was a disgusting attack on two women who appear to have been picked out and targeted by a group of youths,” Detective Superintendent Andy Cox said in a statement. “The suspects have made a number of homophobic comments towards the couple before throwing coins at them. When the women tried to reason with the group, the attack escalated to an assault.”
Although London is widely seen as a gay friendly city, attacks on the LGBT community have almost doubled between 2014 and 2018. “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,” writes Ben Hunte, the BBC’s LGBT correspondent.