A gay couple in England say they are petrified to leave their home after being attacked in a homophobic assault.
Around 3 a.m. on May 2, Lee Trussler, 28, and his boyfriend Greg Miedzwiecki, 30, were leaving The Edge, a gay nightclub in Southhampton, England. They were holding hands and waiting for a taxi when a group of teenagers began yelling homophobic slurs from across the street, Miedzwiecki told PinkNews.
“Then [the boys] crossed the road, came right in front of us, and started calling us queers, ‘f****ts’, f***ing, c**ts, and all those kinds of things,” he said.
Miedzwiecki said he began filming the teenagers on his mobile phone and told them to stop harassing him and his boyfriend. But the teenagers crossed the street and assaulted him. Trussler then tried to step in and stop them, at which point they turned on him.
“They slapped me in the face and pushed me down. They had me on the floor kicking my face,” Trussler said, adding that he “blacked out” between punches. “I woke up to my friend telling me to wake up. I was spitting blood and I’d cut my tongue and lip open. I was crying.”
As Trussler got up, he realized he didn’t know where Miedzwiecki had gone. He feared the worst.
“I was in hysterics. I was terrified they had beaten him to the floor and he was alone,” Trussler said.
Miedzwiecki said the teens had started to chase him after Trussler lost consciousness, so he “ran away and I hid in someone’s front garden.”
The two later found each other, and flagged down a police car, which took them to Southampton General Hospital. They waited all night to receive treatment for their injuries, but decided to leave the hospital after 9 a.m. when they had not received any help. Instead, they went to Trussler’s mother, a nurse, who was able to treat their wounds.
The experience has shaken the couple up, with the trauma from the attack affecting their day-to-day activities, and leaving them afraid to walk their dog or be out alone at night. The couple said they haven’t felt safe leaving their house, and even cross the street whenever they see a group of men walking their way.
Miedzwiecki and Trussler told PinkNews that they’ve been able to identify their attackers with the help of people who filmed the attack and have uploaded their videos to Facebook. Adding insult to injury, one of the people they claim attacked them lives near them, increasing their anxiety.
The couple also complained that police have been little help in bringing their attackers to justice.
When asked to comment on the incident, the Hampshire Constabulary, or the police force in Southhampton, told reporters that they are “thoroughly investigating” the incident.
“We completely understand that this might feel like a long time,” a police spokesperson said in a statement. “However, we feel we are committed to following up all lines of enquires. If victims are ever concerned about being repeatedly targeted we would always urge them to get in contact so that we can support, reassure and offer safeguarding.”
The attack is the latest in a spike of violence directed at LGBTQ individuals in Britain. According to police data obtained by Vice World News, anti-LGBTQ hate crimes rose by more than 200% between 2014 and 2021. Some LGBTQ advocates believe that, due to underreporting, the number of bias-motivated crimes may actually be higher. According to the investigative journalism unit Liberty Investigates, only 14% of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes that occurred in 2020 were resolved by police to a point where the perpetrators were held responsible for their actions, down from 28% just five years earlier.
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