A man allegedly threatened to stab train passengers and said gay people “needed to be killed” as thousands of people left Brighton Pride – the largest LGBT+ event in the UK.
On a packed carriage, the man is said to have harangued those returning to London from the event early on Sunday morning, and was captured on film saying “why are you so gay?” and calling people “f******”.
Journalist Benjamin Butterworth was on the train and filmed the man shouting and acting aggressively.
Writing on Twitter, Mr Butterworth said: “On train back from @PrideBrighton, a man threatened to pull a knife on me and others and stab us for being gay. He called us paedophiles and dirty and shouted gay people need to all be killed. The video is a fraction of what he said, as was too scared & shaken to film.”
Mr Butterworth said he was on the 4.33am train from Brighton to London Victoria and the man joined the train at a later station while most of the passengers were asleep.
Speaking to The Independent, he said: “We were woken up by him shouting down the carriage ‘you’re poofs, you’re f******, you’re all disgusting, you’re perverts, you’re paedophiles’.
“This was based on people wearing glitter and rainbow facepaint and he’s obviously made an assumption – an accurate assumption – that it was gay people.”
The man then told passengers he had a knife, Mr Butterworth said. “He had one hand down his pants, which, whether on purpose or not, definitely made me more concerned that he really did have a knife.
“He said he would get the knife out, and that he would stab every gay person on the train. It was quite a bold pledge because almost everyone on the train was gay. It was scary.”
The entire incident lasted about half an hour and the train stopped at two stations before the man was handcuffed at Clapham Junction and led away by police, Mr Butterworth said.
“I felt completely terrified to stand up to him because of the threat of a knife. It was exhausting to be with someone like that for so long.”
Mr Butterworth added: “I live in Vauxhall in south London and I’d been to Brighton Pride. These are said to be the two gayest places in the country. The idea that you can face violent homophobia here shows not only that it still exists, but that it’s absolutely everywhere.”
In a statement, British Transport Police said: “We are aware of a video on social media which appears to show a man making homophobic comments towards passengers on a train.
“We were called at 5.53am on Sunday, 5 August, following reports of homophobic abuse towards passengers on a train bound for London Victoria station.
“Officers met the train and a 28-year-old man was arrested for a public order offence. He has been released under investigation.
“Officers are viewing the footage and making enquiries to establish the full circumstances of the incident.
“Anyone who witnessed the incident should contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40, or text 61016, quoting reference 107 of 5/8/2018.”
The incident comes after chaos at Brighton train station on Saturday night following a sell-out headline set by Britney Spears at the festival. Thousands of people trying to leave were locked out of the station and made to stand for hours in dangerously large crowds, with some people reportedly passing out as they were forced to wait.
Pride organisers blamed Govia Thameslink (GTR), the rail operator, for its inability to provide sufficient services, which they said put “people’s safety in jeopardy”.
A spokesperson said: “We were appalled to see that Pride-goers were standing for long periods of time, at the end of the event, while waiting to access Brighton Station, and with almost no information provided by GTR."
A Govia Thameslink spokesperson said the company ran 15 extra trains to cope with "unprecedented visitor numbers, in addition to the plan we had agreed with the event organisers".
They added: "Access to Brighton station was closed for a period by the police to help with crowding in the town. Everyone who needed to get home last night did so."