By Lauren Rearick
London’s Metropolitan Police Service confirmed four people were arrested on Friday, June 7, in connection with a homophobic attack carried out against a lesbian couple, the Guardian reports.
On May 30, 2019, 28-year-old Melania Geymonat and her girlfriend Chris were attacked during a bus ride in London, CNN reports. According to Geymonat, at least four men approached the couple and started “saying really aggressive stuff.” The attackers allegedly made sexual comments and demanded that the two women kiss each other for the sake of their own voyeurism.
Geymonat told the BBC that she tried to ward off the men by joking with them, and said that Chris, who does not speak English, didn’t understand what was happening. Initially, the men threw coins at the girls. “The next thing I know Chris is in the middle of the bus and they are punching her,” Geymonat said. “I immediately went there by impulse and tried to pull her out of there and they started punching me. I was really bleeding.”
In a statement to the Guardian, police confirmed they had taken suspects into custody: “Four males aged between 15 to 18 have been arrested on Friday 7 June on suspicion of robbery and aggravated GBH. They have been taken to separate London police stations for questioning.” Police noted the investigation remains ongoing.
Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, addressed the events in a tweeted statement on Friday. “This was a disgusting, misogynistic attack. Hate crimes against the LGBT+ community will not be tolerated in London,” he wrote.
In a statement to MTV News, Jean-Marie Navetta, director of learning and inclusion for PFLAG National, condemned the attack. “Here is the ultimate reminder of how much bias and hate is rooted in sexism,” Navetta said. “Men who believe that two people who they deem to be attractive are there to perform for them: This is what toxic masculinity in violent action looks like. This affects not only the LGBTQ+ community, but all people, especially those who are or are perceived to be lesbians. And no person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender expression, should ever be put in this position.”
Since 2014, reports of hate crimes against London’s LGBTQ+ residents steadily increased, BBC reports. In 2018, London police reported 2,308 hate crimes; that number is nearly double the 1,488 reported in 2014. Within the last year, London government announced its LGBT Action Plan to advance the rights of LGBTQ+ people and lessen continued discrimination, the Guardian notes. As part of the plan, the government promised better police support for instances of homophobic hate crimes, an end to “conversion therapy,” and improved medical and mental health offerings for LGBTQ+ people.
London’s LGBTQ+ support stands in stark contrast to President Donald Trump’s continued attacks on LGBTQ+ Americans. Along with a ban on transgender military service, the Trump administration threatened to allow homeless shelters to discriminate against or deny access to transgender people, and proposed a change that would permit healthcare providers the right to refuse helping a patient on the basis of so-called religious or moral objections; activists worry such objections would most frequently be invoked against LGBTQ+ people.