Two queer women in London say they were beaten and robbed on a London double-decker bus last month after refusing to make out in front of a group of men.
Melania Geymonat wrote in a Facebook post that a group of at least four men approached her and her date, identified only as Chris in the post, and started asking about the couple. "We must have kissed or something," Geymonat wrote.
The men wanted the lesbians, both in their 20s, to start kissing again to entertain the men.
"They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us 'lesbians' and describing sexual positions," she wrote. "I don't remember the whole episode, but the word 'scissors' stuck in my mind. It was only them and us there."
Geymonat said at first she tried to calm the situation with 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," she 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 entire encounter happened on the second level of the bus. Geymonat said she was punched, possibly becoming unconscious, and the next thing she remembers is coming to, surrounded by police.
"Our stuff was stolen as well," she wrote. "I don't know yet if my nose is broken, and I haven't been able to go back to work, but what upsets me the most is that VIOLENCE HAS BECOME A COMMON THING, that sometimes it's necessary to see a woman bleeding after having been punched to feel some kind of impact."
The Metropolitan Police say the incident happened May 30 around 2:30 a.m. aboard the N31 bus in West Hampstead.
The women both were taken to a hospital for medical treatment, and police say a phone and bag were stolen during the assault.
Police have now arrested four teenagers in connection with the attack, CNN reports. They range in age from 15 to 18 and were arrested on suspicion of robbery and causing grievous bodily harm. The investigation is continuing, Detective Superintendent Andy Cox said. "Lots of people will understandably be outraged by this attack," he said in a statement. "Our efforts to trace all the suspects involved and bring them in for questioning will be relentless."
Anyone with information on the attack is asked to contact police or call Crimestoppers.
City and national officials condemned the assault. "This was a disgusting, misogynistic attack. Hate crimes against the LGBT+ community will not be tolerated in London," Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister Theresa May also released a statement, CNN reports. "This was a sickening attack and my thoughts are with the couple affected," she said. "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."
Police stats show 2,308 homophobic hate crimes occurred in London during 2018, according to the BBC.
Geymonat said the nature of the attack made her especially angry.
"I'm tired of being taken as a SEXUAL OBJECT, of finding out that these situations are usual, of gay friends who were beaten up JUST BECAUSE. We have to endure verbal harassment AND CHAUVINIST, MISOGYNISTIC AND HOMOPHOBIC VIOLENCE because when you stand up for yourself shit like this happens," she wrote.
"By the way, I am thankful to all the women and men in my life that understand that HAVING BALLS MEANS SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. I just hope that in June, Pride Month, stuff like this can be spoken out loudly so they STOP HAPPENING!"