Matthew Francis, one of the two men accused of assaulting a gay man in New York City’s Stonewall Inn early last Sunday, claimed in a prison interview yesterday that he doesn’t hate gay people.

Mr Francis, 21, and Christopher Orlando, 17, both of Staten Island, are being charged with assault as a hate crime and attempted robbery after they reportedly confronted Ben Carver, 34, in the bar’s toilets and set upon him after he refused to meet their demands for money.

Mr Carver fought back, and his assailants were chased from the bar by punters and a bartender before being apprehended by police in the street.

As reported in the New York Daily News, Mr Francis was unapologetic in an interview conducted yesterday the Manhattan House of Detention, where he is being held until his bail is paid. He said: “I’m not going to say sorry because I don’t know what I should be sorry for.” He added: “I don’t hate gay people. I don’t hate anybody.”

Francis also said that although he felt bad for his victim, he resented being charged with a hate crime, which carries much harsher penalties than assault alone. He said: “If it had happened somewhere else I wouldn’t be be here”.

Mr Carver, the man who suffered the assault, was reportedly “stunned” by Mr Francis’s claims. He said: “I have a headache – it’s lasted for three days . . . it’s been a difficult time for me and I’m looking forward to it being over.”

Mr Francis also said that his sister was “a full-blown lesbian,” adding that he often visited the Staten Island bar where she worked as a barmaid on lesbian-themed nights at the venue. “I don’t discriminate against gay people,” he added.

Mr Francis and Mr Orlando are due back in court tomorrow.

Comments are closed until the outcome of the trial is known.