We are marking each day in the week leading up to London Pride with a blog highlighting LGBTQ+ issues from home and abroad.
With rainbows adorning shop windows, stretching along London buses, replacing zebra crossings, hijacking social media profile pictures and featuring in corporate logos, it is hard to miss the fact that it is Pride season in London. Once a year, London falls in love with all things LGBTQ+ and it is an empowering sight to behold.
But for all the sense of empowerment this brings, the showering of rainbow colours over the city makes it easy to be lulled into a false sense of security about the safety and equality of LGBTQ+ people. Indeed, some may even wonder why Pride is still relevant in London today. However, the recent shocking news of a homophobic attack on one of London’s buses served as a very real reminder of its importance.
In May 2019, two women reported how they were subjected to a homophobic attack when travelling home from a date. A group of young men started harassing Melania Geymonat and her partner Chris, asking for them to kiss and making sexual gestures. Ms Geymonat told the BBC: "They surrounded us and started saying really aggressive stuff, things about sexual positions, lesbians and claiming we could kiss so they could watch us. […] The next thing I know Chris is in the middle of the bus and they are punching her. […] So I immediately went there by impulse and tried to pull her out of there and they started punching me. I was really bleeding."
They asked a witness of the attack to take a photo of their blood-stained faces, which quickly went viral and prompted an outcry and condemnation from politicians, celebrities and society at large.
This attack is not a one-off: the Met released figures showing that year on year, there has been an increase in the number of homophobic hate crimes across London, with 2,308 homophobic hate crimes committed in 2018, compared with 1,488 in 2014. As mentioned in our previous blog, the Trade Union Congress reported that nearly 7 in 10 LGBTQ people have been sexually harassed at work. Last year, a government study found that two thirds of LGBTQ people said they had avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner for fear of a negative reaction from others.
If nothing else does, these figures demonstrate why Pride is still significant, why it is important to remember that inequality still exists, and why it is crucial that we stand alongside the LGBTQ+ community.
About the author
Emily Elliott is an Associate in Kingsley Napley’s criminal litigation team. She is co-chair of the firm’s LGBTQ & Allies network and member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee.
If you want to see our blogs from Pride last year, please find them here.