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Teens who attacked same-sex couple on London bus were motivated by homophobia, judge rules

Emma Powys Maurice November 30, 2019
Two women on a bus covered in blood after alleged homophobic attack

A same-sex couple who were beaten on a London bus for refusing to kiss was just one of the many examples of rising hate crime in the UK (Facebook)

The same-sex couple attacked on a London bus by three teens earlier this year were targeted because of hostility towards their sexuality, a judge has ruled.

Three boys aged 15, 16 and 17 are accused of brutally attacking Melania Geymonat and Christine Hannigan when they refused to kiss for them. Charges against a fourth teenager were dropped due to lack of evidence.

A special hearing was convened on Friday after the 17-year-old denied that homophobia was an aggravating factor in the attack. His defence solicitor David Wood said although the boy threw coins and made a kissing gesture at the couple, the action was not based on their sexual orientations.

“He was 17 and just being stupid,” Wood said. “They have got over excited in a puerile, immature way over the fact that these women were in some sort of relationship.”

But district judge Susan Williams ruled that homophobia was behind his involvement, agreeing with Hannigan that the pair were targeted specifically because of their sexuality.

A teen pelted a queer woman on a night bus in London. (Metropolitan Police)
One of the teens attacking Christine Hannigan, who is bisexual, on the London night bus (Metropolitan Police)

“I am quite sure this was a hostile act. However, I also have to be sure that you were hostile because Ms Hannigan was a lesbian,” district judge Susan Williams told the court.

“In other words that you were picking on her because of who she was and not just fooling around. I have come to the short conclusion that that is exactly what you were doing.”

She added: “These two women were being pestered, harassed and intimidated because of who they were.”

Williams sentenced the 17-year-old to a four-month youth rehabilitation order with a 20-hour reparation requirement, similar to community service, and a two-week curfew.

The two younger boys pleaded guilty to committing an aggravated hate crime and handling stolen goods, and will be sentenced in December.

CCTV footage shown in court on Thursday captures the moment that the two women were attacked. One boy can clearly be seen making lewd “scissoring” gestures at the women before launching at them with a barrage of kicks and punches.

 

“It was scary and, frankly, I deal with a lot of harassment in London,” Christine Hannigan told the court on Friday. “They were being very aggressive verbally and then they made it physical.”

Judge Williams strongly condemned the attack but questioned whether it could be classed as a hate crime.

“They were clustering around watching them like some sort of sideshow, they seem to think it a huge joke and behaved inappropriately,” she said.

“I don’t know if I would describe it as a ‘hate crime’ but they quite clearly targeted this couple.

“It is plainly the fact it was a same-sex couple that attracted the boys and provoked their interaction. I would hope in this day and age we could tolerate others and not carry on in the way that they did.”

More: christine hannigan, Hate crime, Homophobia, lesbian, London, London bus attack, melania geymonat

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