Court Finds Teen Boys Attack On Lesbian Couple Was Driven By Homophobia
Three teenage boys have admitted to threatening a lesbian couple on a London bus in May, BBC News reported. The teens admitted the public order offenses on Thursday local time.
District Judge Susan Williams ruled that a 17-year-old boy was motivated by homophobia. He was sentenced to a four-month youth rehabilitation order, 20-hours of community service, and a two-week curfew. The two other boys, ages 15 and 16, will be sentenced on December 23.
According to the couple -- Melania Geymonat and Christine Hannigan, both in their 20s -- they were riding the night bus when the group of boys realised they were a couple and began harassing them and demanding they kiss.
"We were clearly together in a romantic sense, we were being affectionate," Hannigan told the court, BBC News reports.
"It is pretty intimidating being cornered and making homophobic comments. They wanted us to show them how lesbians have sex. They said 'show us' and I don't remember if it was on its own or part of a larger phrase but the words were said."
According to Geymonat, even as she and Hannigan tried to defuse the situation, the boys continued to harass them and pelted coins at them, resulting in the facial injuries seen in a viral photo. The teens then stole a phone and bag from the couple and ran away, according to police. Both women were taken to hospital for their injuries.
Hannigan told the court they were targeted "because of who they were".
In delivering her ruling, Judge Williams said it was clear the incident was a "hostile act".
"However, I also have to be sure that you were hostile because Ms. Hannigan was a lesbian," Williams said to the defendants in court.
"In other words, that you were picking on her because of who she was and not just fooling around... I have come to the short conclusion that is exactly what you were doing."