Same-sex couple attacked on London bus reveal horrific details of ordeal: ‘We were harassed because of who we are’
Punched in the face, coins chucked at them and subjected to sexual gestures – the same-sex couple attacked in London this year by teens have given the shocking details of the ordeal in court.
Melania Geymonat-Ramirez and Christine Hannigan leapt into headlines and front-pages earlier this year after becoming victims of a brutal homophobic and misogynistic brawl.
Targeted by teens on a bus less than 10 seconds after boarding, the pair have given evidence to their attacker’s trial today, reported Sky News.
On Thursday, three teenage boys – aged 15, 16 and 17 – pleaded guilty to threatening the couple.
‘You feel embarrassed being targeted for your sexual orientation,’ says one half of same-sex couple.
But the 17-year-old denied his behaviour being motivated by the couple’s sexual identities.
Today’s fact-checking hearing in London will decide whether the attack was homophobic.
Geymonat-Ramirez and Hannigan boarded the Camden-bound N31 at around 2.15am on May 30.
Having just returned from a date, they sat on the top-floor of the double-decker vehicle when the teens quickly swarmed them.
Hannigan told the court behind a screen: “We were clearly together in a romantic sense, we were being affectionate.
“It is pretty intimidating being cornered and making homophobic comments.”
She continued: “You feel embarrassed being targeted for your sexual orientation.”
The boys began to toss coins at them, and after the 17-year-old tossed “at least three coins” at her, she gave them a warning to stop.
But when another was hurled, “it was a step too far” and she confronted the teen: “Throw another one and see what happens.”
“It turned into a fight because they were being physically aggressive with us.”
“It turned into a fight because you threw the first punch,” the 17-year-old’s legal representative, David Wood, said.
Teen’s lawyer suggests them approaching the couple was a form of flirting.
The teens then surrounded them on the top deck of the London bus, Hannigan said, “they wanted us to show them how lesbians have sex”.
“They said ‘show us’ and I don’t remember if it was on its own or part of a larger phrase but the words were said.”
The American described the boys as “aggressive” and the situation “scary”, so pretended she was going to throw up, “so they would leave us alone.”
Geymonat-Ramirez gave evidence that she got “the impression […] that they were all, as a group, egging each other on.”
“I remember they were continuing to show an interest and I said to them she doesn’t speak English and then I pretended to speak some sort of Asian or Chinese language with her,” she said via a Spanish translator.
“So trying to say to them she does not understand what you are saying so stop bothering us.”
She later clarified that, despite the attack, the couple never did kiss while on-board.
Startling surveillance footage showed one teen, aged 15, making a scissoring motion with his hands.
When asked whether the teens were aggressive or annoying, Hannigan, who is bisexual, responded: “I think they were being both.
“They got up from their seats to surround us on the top deck of a bus, which is in and of itself aggressive.”
But Wood argued that his client chucking coins at the victim was not motivated by the victim’s sexual orientations.
‘I think it’s the definition of targeting.’
Wood suggested that the boys approaching the couple may have been a form of flirting.
“I would not describe what they were doing as hitting on us,” Hannigan replied.
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“I engaged them only after I realised one of the boys had started throwing coins,” she said.
“They were being extremely aggressive verbally and then they made it physical.
“I felt cornered and it was pretty scary and someone was getting physical as a result of it.”