UPDATE (November 30): On Friday, Judge Susan Williams ruled that the attack on the two women had been motivated by hostility toward their sexuality.
Three teenagers admitted in court this week that they had harassed and threatened two women in May on a London night bus.
Melania Ramirez and Christine Hannigan’s case made headlines in June, when Ramirez wrote in a Facebook post that the two had been “surrounded” on the bus after they’d kissed.
“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."
Eventually, the situation devolved into a fistfight. Ramirez’s nose was broken, and Hannigan’s jaw was injured. A photo of the two went viral soon after, along with Ramirez’s accompanying Facebook post.
Judge Susan Williams said Thursday that it was clear the women had been targeted because they were a couple, reported the Guardian. CCTV footage shows one of the teens making a “scissoring” gesture toward the couple — another, threw coins at them, according to prosecutors.
One teen also pleaded guilty to taking Hannigan’s purse, with her phone inside, and another pleaded guilty to handling Ramirez’s stolen bank card.
The defense claims that the actions were not motivated by homophobia.
Though solicitor David Wood admitted that the teens were likely drawn to the pair because they were being physically affectionate, he argued that the coin-throwing “has nothing whatsoever to do with an attack based on hostility with regards to sexual orientation.”
In court Friday, Hannigan said that she felt “scared” and “physically cornered,” during the incident.
Hannigan called the teens’ behavior “aggressive, insulting, and annoying,” and said she’d felt “embarrassed being targeted for [her] sexuality.”
Williams said Thursday she would not go so far as to call the actions a “hate crime,” but that the issue had to be resolved in order to determine the severity of the situation.
In an opinion piece for the Guardian in June, Hannigan pointed out that similar attacks on LGBTQ people of color, especially trans women, do not trigger the same kind of outrage.
“This attack and the ensuing media circus are par for the course in 2019. In both my native United States and here in the United Kingdom, it always has been and still is open season on the bodies of (in no specific order) people of colour, indigenous people, transgender people, disabled people, queer people, poor people, women and migrants,” Hannigan wrote.
“The press coverage, and timely law enforcement response, was not coincidental to our complexions. Neither was the disproportionate online reaction over the victimisation of a pretty brunette and blonde,” she continued.
“Make the extraordinary reaction to our attack the norm,” she urged. “Redirect your money from rainbow capitalism to people-of-colour-led organisations striving for justice … Question why the photo of two attractive, white cisgender women compelled you to post about Pride for the first time.”