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Images of a bloodied lesbian couple who had allegedly just been physically assaulted on a London bus went viral this Pride month, as members of the LGBTQ community express horror over the incident. Now, the victims of the attack are speaking out and declaring that they remain unafraid.
Melania Geymonat, 28, and her partner Chris (last name not given) were riding a double decker bus on May 30 at around 2:30 a.m. when they say a group of young men began harassing them because of their sexual identity. The harassment turned bloody as the two women were violently beaten and robbed. Five arrests have since been made in the wake of the alleged assault. Despite or because of the attention she's received as a result of the blood-spattered image that she posted on Facebook being widely shared, Chris expressed that she is "not scared about being visibly queer."
"I was and still am angry," Chris told the BBC. "It was scary, but this is not a novel situation."
Geymonat had originally described the altercation in a Facebook post that now has more than 14,000 shares.
"There were at least four of them. They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us ‘lesbians’ and describing sexual positions," Geymonat wrote. "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 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."
Geymonat explained to CNN that she had shared her story on social media to raise awareness about the violence the LGBT community regularly faces.
"I found out many gay friends have been beaten up because they were gay and many women friends are feeling harassed because they are sitting in a bar with a friend and harassed by men," she said. "Or, in my case, if I am with someone I am dating [and] someone comes to talk to us [and] I say I am dating her, they say, 'Oh you should kiss because I don't believe you.' It is [a] kind of entertainment."
Four suspects were arrested by police on May 6. The next day, as Pride celebrations began throughout London, a fifth suspect was arrested, according to the Metropolitan Police. All five suspects are males between 15 and 18 years old. All five have been bailed out and will return to court in early July. Police are not searching for anyone else connected to the crime.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, condemned the incident.
"This was a disgusting, misogynistic attack," Kahn wrote on Twitter. "Hate crimes against the LGBT+ community will not be tolerated in London."
Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, echoed his sentiment.
"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," May said, according to CNN.
Hate crimes have been on the rise in London since 2014. According to the Met Police's crime dashboard, 1,488 hate crimes occurred in 2014. That number nearly doubled to 2,308 in 2018.
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