London: The Metropolitan Police on Friday arrested four teens, aged between 15 to 18 years, on suspicion of robbery and “aggravated hate crime” against two women on a bus in Camden.
The incident took place during the wee hours of May 30, when the women, who are in their 20s, boarded the bus in West Hampstead.
“There were at least four of them. They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us ‘lesbians’ and describing sexual positions,” one of the victims, Melania PS claimed in a Facebook post.
The six of them were the only ones in the bus, apart from the driver, Melania added.
“In an attempt to calm things down, I started making jokes. I thought this might make them go away. Chris (her partner) even pretended she was sick, but they kept on harassing us, throwing us coins and becoming more enthusiastic about it,” she further said, recounting the horrific incident.
“The next thing I know is that Chris is in the middle of the bus fighting with them. On an impulse, I went over there only to find her face bleeding and three of them beating her up. The next thing I know is I’m being punched.
I got dizzy at the sight of my blood and fell back. I don’t remember whether or not I lost consciousness. Suddenly the bus had stopped, the police were there and I was bleeding all over. Our stuff was stolen as well,” she stated.
Both women were taken to the hospital for treatment of facial injuries. They have now been discharged, the police added.
“This was a disgusting attack on two women who appear to have been picked out and targeted by a group of youths.
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,” Detective Superintendent Andy Cox said in a statement.
The homophobic incident has been widely condemned by the top brass of political leaders in the UK, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Prime Minister Theresa May.
“This was a disgusting, misogynistic attack. Hate crimes against the LGBT+ community will not be tolerated in London. The @metpoliceuk are investigating and arrests have been made. If you have any information – call 101,” Khan tweeted.
“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,” CNN quoted May as saying.
As part of the investigations, CCTV footage from the attack is being reviewed by the detectives.
“Attacks of this nature on London buses are rare. I would like to reassure those heading out over the weekend that extra uniformed and plainclothes Safer Transport officers will be out on patrol working to keep them safe and
prevent crime,” Cox lastly said, urging witnesses to come forward.
The attack comes at a time when the LGBTQIA+ community is observing Pride month to commemorate the Stonewall riots which took place in June 1969.
While the UK decriminalized homosexuality over 50 years ago, hate crimes against the community are still reported.
Members of the community enjoy marriage rights in the country and it is illegal to discriminate against somebody because of their sexuality in the UK.