*trigger warning, story contains themes which some readers may find distressing*
Another report of homophobia as incidents in London and across the UK continue to rise
21-year-old gay student Harry Batt was left bloodied and allegedly called homophobic slurs when he became the victim of an alleged anti-gay hate crime whilst making his way home after a night out at Heaven nightclub, a queer venue in central London.
Speaking to ITV News, Harry said he was he was waiting for the bus home at around 3:30am on Saturday (12 February) when a woman allegedly subjected him to verbal homophobic abuse before punching him on the back of the head with “a ring which cut into his skin”.
“Some girl out of nowhere came up to me and starts hurling homophobic slurs directed towards me and getting aggressive,” Harry told ITV News London.
“And then she just started punching me in the head, multiple times.
“There’s a scuffle and friends try to pull her away and as soon as she does it [punches] she runs off into the road and flees the scene,” he added.
“I called 101 requesting an update and they contacted me through Twitter as well and said I’d been assigned an investigating officer who would be in touch in due course”, Harry added, having taken to Twitter with the following post:
i don’t wish to scare anyone, but unfortunately last night i fell myself victim to a homophobic attack whilst waiting for a bus home outside heaven nightclub in london. a girl came up to me and started throwing homophobic verbal assaults at me unprovoked, which I said to her she pic.twitter.com/btNK5uc88B— harry (@_hxrrybxtt) February 12, 2022
“i don’t wish to scare anyone”, the post thread begins, “but unfortunately last night i fell myself victim to a homophobic attack whilst waiting for a bus home outside heaven nightclub in london.”
“a girl came up to me and started throwing homophobic verbal assaults at me unprovoked, which I said to her she couldn’t say to me or I would get the police involved. she proceeded to punch me multiple times in the head, leaving me with a bleed, before rapidly fleeing the scene.”
Harry added that he was posting for awareness, rather than sympathy, adding: “the LGBTQ+ community still do not have equality in 2022, and to not be complacent, as there are still so many people out there who site to inflict hate upon us simply for being who we are.”
“please please please stand up for our community, and stand up for love. we shouldn’t be treated any differently than anyone else.”
According to reports, The Met Police said CCTV was being reviewed and officers were working with BTP (British Transport Police) who spoke to Harry first to find the woman, who is British, in question.
“We have refreshed our overall approach to tackling hate crime in order to provide better support to victims, to enable a stronger response towards offenders of hate crime and to improve accessibility of our service to Londoners across all communities,” Met Police said.
“We have continued to improve our proactive and reactive work in order to support the LGBT+ community.
“Specifically, the Met’s 125 volunteer LGBT+ advisers link in directly with the community to listen to concerns, feed directly back in to the service and encourage reporting of crime,” the statement added.
In 2019, 2,926 homophobic hate crimes were recorded in Britain, jumping to 3,555 in 2001 – an increase of 21%. However it is suggested that the true figures are likely to be much greater than this, because people often won’t report incidents out of fear, shame, a general lack of faith in the system, or several other demotivating factors.
“Just because we have rights in law doesn’t mean that everyone is truly accepting of it,” Harry continued in his ITV London interview. “It won’t stop me living my life, it won’t stop me from going out, enjoying life and being myself and make me be a bit more careful coming out of these places.”
Heaven nightclub owner Jeremy Joseph commented: “The streets on a Friday and Saturday night are horrible at the moment you can feel an atmosphere at times”, referring to tensions as lockdown restrictions have been eased across the country.
Only the night before the venue had another incident, Jeremy explained to ITV News: “On Friday night, three people attacked our queue wearing balaclavas, police were about 50 metres away who chased them away.
“But they were willing to attack the queue in front of police that shows how bad it is on the streets at the moment,” he said.
Joseph then added that London needed better CCTV, better lighting, more police and the return of the Night Tube to make it safer for people to get home.