High schoolers charged in attack on lesbian couple
Four teenagers have been charged in a homophobic attack on a London bus that sparked widespread outrage in the UK.
Melania Geymonat and her partner were traveling home after an evening out together May 30 when the incident occurred.
On Thursday, detectives charged the four — ages 15 to 17 — with an aggravated hate crime under the Public Order Act, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement. The 15-year-old was also charged with handling stolen goods. One of the two 16-year-olds faces an additional charge of cannabis possession.
The four are set to appear at Highbury Corner Youth Court on August 21.
After the attack, Geymonat — a flight attendant originally from Uruguay — posted a photo on Facebook showing the pair on the bus, covered in blood and visibly injured.
In an accompanying detailed account in English in Spanish, Geymonat said at least four men had started harassing the couple when they saw them kissing. The group taunted the women with lewd comments and ordered them to kiss for their amusement before finally assaulting and robbing them, Geymonat said.
“They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us ‘lesbians’ and describing sexual positions,” she wrote.
The pair were taken to a local hospital to receive treatment for facial injuries. Geymonat later confirmed to CNN her nose was broken.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemned the incident as a “disgusting, misogynistic attack.”
Then-Prime Minister Theresa May added: “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.”
In June, Geymonat’s partner Chris — who has not revealed her surname — urged the public to act against the rise in anti-LGBT hate crimes in an opinion piece for the Guardian.
“A refrain I’ve heard ad nauseum is ‘I can’t believe this happened — it’s 2019’. I disagree,” Chris wrote. “In both my native United States and here in the United Kingdom, it always has been and still is open season on the bodies of (in no specific order) people of colour, indigenous people, transgender people, disabled people, queer people, poor people, women and migrants.”
British police say the number of homophobic hate crimes they handle has more than doubled in five years, with 11,638 recorded between 2017 and 2018 — a rate of about 32 a day.