Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage

The two men fear that vocal opposition to same-sex marriage is legitimising homophobia

A gay couple who were beaten by a gang of youths in a suspected homphobic robbery last weekend – leaving one with head injuries – have urged politicians to moderate their language when debating same-sex marriage.

Christopher Bryant, editor of gay and lesbian online magazine Polari, was on his way home from his birthday celebrations with partner Damon Truluck when they were confronted by a group of six men on Saturday night.

The two men were beaten and told to “stay down… faggot” as they walked through Betts Park in Bromley, south London, Mr Bryant told The Independent yesterday. “We were about a third of the way across the park, we saw a bunch of guys under a street lamp near one of the exits about 100 feet away from us. They started to follow us.

“We started to run… but they grabbed Damon so I turned and went back. That’s when three of them pulled me to one side. There was lots of shouting, they pushed me on the ground and when I turned to see what was happening to Damon, one of them said ‘stay down you fucking faggot’.”

During the attack, Mr Bryant, 42, was kicked several times in the head and punched. He was left with head injuries, and his wallet and phone were stolen. Mr Truluck, 38, was pinned down by the neck, punched and repeatedly kicked in the back and sustained neck injuries as a result.

Police were treating the attack on Mr Bryant and his partner as robbery with a homophobic element.

The ambush took place just hours after Mr Bryant had been working to promote International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), a global awareness-building campaign: “It was a big day and an important day.  [At the magazine Polari] we get reported tales of homophobia sent to us that are horrific,” he said.

As a number of Conservative MPs expressed their opposition to gay marriage yesterday, Mr Bryant said he feared that homophobic attitudes were being legitimised by politicians.

“It is about giving people a legitimate narrative. At the moment MPs are saying ‘the situation is not equal for you’. By denying active equality they are inherently saying there is something wrong with [being gay], without actually saying it,” he said.

“A lot of kids in particular seem to be as homophobic now as they ever were. Our social circles tend to be limited. We tend to circulate with like-minded people, it is only when we step out of those worlds that we realise there is so much we don’t see.”

Police found CCTV footage of the couple entering the park at around 12.30am on Sunday and then leaving less than 20 minutes later, but were unable to find images inside the park, which is close to the couple’s home. 

Officers are carrying out an extensive search of cameras in the area in a bid to identify the attackers, who are believed to have been in their late teens or early twenties and were wearing hooded tops at the time.

Last month it was revealed that a quarter of gay people in the European Union had been attacked, in a study of 93,000 people. According to figures published last year, there were 4,252 sexual orientation hate crimes recorded by police in Britain between 2011 and 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'