Teens hit with hate crime charges over bus attack
FOUR teenage boys have been charged with a hate crime after a lesbian couple were subjected to a horrific homophobic attack after refusing to kiss on a bus.
Melania Geymonat, 28, was with her American girlfriend Chris after an evening out in West Hampstead in London when the group of boys started to demand they kiss while making crude sexual gestures, The Sun reports.
When the couple refused, the group allegedly launched a horrific punching attack that left them covered in blood.
A police spokesman said four boys, two aged 16, one aged 15 and another aged 17, have been charged with an aggravated hate crime under the Public Order Act.
One of the 16-year-olds was also charged with theft and handling stolen goods, while the 15-year-old is accused of possessing cannabis.
The attack was widely condemned as Ms Geymonat described how she and her girlfriend were surrounded by the "hooligans" and punched while on the N31 bus in Camden.
Writing on Facebook, Ms Geymonat said: "They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us 'lesbians' and describing sexual positions.
"I don't remember the whole episode, but the word 'scissors' stuck in my mind.
"In an attempt to calm things down, I started making jokes.
"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."
HORROR ATTACK LEFT WOMEN BLOODIED AND BRUISED
Ms Geymonat said before she knew it, Chris was in the middle of the group of men being beaten.
"I went over there only to find her face bleeding and three of them beating her up," she said.
"The next thing I know is I'm being punched. I got dizzy at the sight of my blood and fell back. I don't remember whether or not I lost consciousness.
"Suddenly, the bus had stopped, the police were there and I was bleeding all over."
Harrowing photographs show both women badly injured after the May 30 attack, with Ms Geymonat waiting to find out if her nose was broken.
Ms Geymonat, who lives in Bishop's Stortford in Essex, said the pair decided to sit at the front on the top deck because they both enjoy the novelty of a double-decker bus.
Ms Geymonat, who moved to the UK in February and is on a year's sabbatical from her medical studies, says she felt safe as a gay woman in London and was stunned by the attack.
But she said she had released the picture to raise awareness of violence against women and gay people.
"What upsets me the most is that violence has become a common thing, that sometimes it's necessary to see a woman bleeding after having been punched to feel some kind of impact," Ms Geymonat said.
"I'm tired of being taken as a sexual object, of finding out these situations are usual, of gay friends who were beaten up just because.
"We have to endure verbal harassment and chauvinist, misogynistic and homophobic violence because when you stand up for yourself sh*t like this happens.
"I just hope that in June, Pride Month, stuff like this can be spoken out loudly so they stop happening!"
When asked whether the attack left her less willing to show affection in public, Chris told the BBC: "I am not scared about being visibly queer.
"If anything, you should do it more.
"I was and still am angry. It was scary, but this is not a novel situation."
Police had appealed for anyone who had witnessed the attack in West Hampstead to contact them.
"As they sat on the top deck they were approached by a group of four males who began to make lewd and homophobic comments to them. The women were then attacked and punched several times before the males ran off the bus," police said.
"A phone and bag were stolen during the assault. Both women were taken to hospital for treatment to facial injuries."
Detective Superintendent Andy Cox blasted the "disgusting attack on two women who appear to have been picked out and targeted by a group of youths".
CCTV footage from the attack is being reviewed by detectives as they continue to appeal for witnesses.
"Attacks of this nature on London buses are rare," Supt Cox said.
"I would like to reassure those heading out over the weekend that extra uniformed and plain clothes Safer Transport officers will be out on patrol working to keep them safe and prevent crime."
Former prime minister Theresa May also condemned the assault.
"This was a sickening attack, and my thoughts are with the couple affected," she said.
"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."
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission