Arrests have been made over a homophobic attack on a couple after they refused to kiss while travelling on a London night bus on 30 May, Scotland Yard said.
Four male teenagers aged between 15 and 18 were arrested on Friday on suspicion of robbery and aggravated GBH, said the Metropolitan Police. They have been taken to separate London police stations for questioning.
Detective Superintendent Andy Cox condemned the “disgusting” attack, stating: “CCTV footage from the attack is being reviewed by detectives. We continue to appeal for information from the public, particularly those who were present on the bus before or after the attack to come forward and tell police what they saw.”
Melania Geymonat, a 28-year-old Ryanair cabin crew member from Uruguay, shared a photo on Facebook taken just after she and her girlfriend, Chris, were assaulted last week.
“We climbed upstairs and took the front seats,” Ms Geymonat said. “We must have kissed or something because these guys came after us. I don’t remember if they were already there or if they got on after us.”
The “hooligans” then demanded the two women kiss for their entertainment, harassed them and threw coins, she said. Ms Geymonat said the gang of at least four may have broken her nose during the ordeal, and stole a phone and bag before fleeing.
Both women were taken to hospital for treatment to facial injuries after the early hours attack, but have since been released.
In a post on her Facebook page she wrote: “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.
“The next thing I know is that Chris is in the middle of the bus fighting with them. On an impulse, I went over there only to find her face bleeding and three of them beating her up. The next thing I know is I’m being punched ... 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.”
Ms Geymonat said one of the men spoke Spanish and the others had British accents.
DS Cox said officers were still attempting to “trace other individuals suspected to have been involved in the incident. Lots of people will understandably be outraged by this attack”. He added: “Our efforts to trace all the suspects involved and bring them in for questioning will be relentless.”
LGBT+ campaigners have warned that homophobic incidents are more common that many people realise. “This attack won’t be the only hate crime against the LGBT+ community this month,” Laura Russell, director of campaigns, policy and research at Stonewall, told The Independent.
Prime minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both condemned the attack. Mr Corbyn said: “We must not, and will not, accept this homophobic and misogynist violence in our society. Solidarity to Melania and Chris, and to all in the LGBT+ community for everything they endure for simply being who they are.”
Ms May added: “This was a sickening attack and my thoughts are with the couple affected. 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.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan called it “a disgusting, misogynistic attack. Hate crimes against the LGBT+ community will not be tolerated in London.”
Police are still appealing for witnesses. If you have any information about this attack you can report it to @metpoliceuk on 101 or via Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.