LONDON – A total of five teenage boys were under arrest Saturday in connection with an alleged assault on two women who refused to kiss as they were surrounded on a London bus and taunted as lesbians, according to an account by one of the women.
The alleged attack May 30 was revealed in social media posts by one of the women, Melania Geymonat, who said she was beaten and bloodied. The British news media reported on the incident Friday and politicians responded.
On Friday evening, the Metropolitan Police announced that four teens had been arrested in connection with the assault. They said another boy, 16, was arrested Saturday. Police were reviewing CCTV footage of the attack and continued to appeal for witnesses and information
Geymonat, an Uruguayan flight attendant, said she and her American girlfriend Chris — she did not provide a last name — were traveling home on the top deck of a London night bus to Camden Town, a neighborhood busy with nightlife, in the early hours of May 30.
“I had a date with Chris,” Geymonat posted on her Facebook page. “We got on the Night Bus … climbed upstairs and took the front seats. We must have kissed or something because these guys came after us.”
She said a group of four men, one with a Spanish accent, the others with British accents, were “behaving like hooligans” and demanding they kiss “so they could enjoy watching.”
“In an attempt to calm things down, I started making jokes,” Geymonat wrote. “I thought this might make them go away. Chris even pretended she was sick, but they kept on harassing us, throwing us coins and becoming more enthusiastic about it.”
According to her account, the situation then escalated and the men started punching them. “Suddenly the bus had stopped, the police were there and I was bleeding all over,” she wrote.
Police said that the incident took place at 2:30 a.m. and that “the women were then attacked and punched several times before the males ran off the bus. A phone and bag were stolen during the assault.” The two were treated at a London hospital for facial injuries and released.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the incident “a disgusting, misogynistic attack.” Hate crimes against gay people will not be tolerated in London, he said.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called it “absolutely shocking” and promised “solidarity to Melania and Chris and to all in the LGBT+ community for everything they endure for simply being who they are.”
Prime Minister Theresa May also denounced the attack.
Geymonat posted photographs of herself and her partner with bloodied faces and clothes.
Siwan Hayward, director of compliance, policing and on-street services at Transport for London, told the BBC that the assault was “sickening” and “utterly unacceptable,” adding that “homophobic behavior and abuse is a hate crime and won’t be tolerated on our network.”
As news of the attack began to spread, thousands took to social media to express solidarity with the couple. “Melania and Chris” trended in the United Kingdom on Friday, with many also explaining “this is why we still pride.” London Pride, a month of LGBT events culminating in a massive parade on July 6, begins Saturday.