August 2, 2017

Gay Men Still Get Persecuted and Abused in England and Wales






James and Dain after the attack 

Fifty years ago, gay sex between men in private was decriminalised in England and Wales. Despite this, hate crimes against gay people have persisted, and the number of attacks recorded by police has been rising. There were 7,194 in England and Wales in the year to April 2016. Campaigners say this isn't the full picture, though, as many victims still don't report assaults. Six people affected by hate crimes share their stories. 
Warning: This story contains details of violence and images which some readers might find upsetting.
James and Dain were enjoying a night out together in Brighton in May 2016 when they were followed out of a nightclub and attacked on the seafront. The assault has left physical and emotional scars.
James: We were at the bar and we got this look from a couple of guys from across the dance floor. It takes a lot to make me feel uncomfortable but it was just such a weird look they gave us. Dain had his arm around me. I don't think they liked that. Then they started shouting at us. I told Dain we needed to get out of the club into a taxi the quickest way possible. 
Dain: We left the bar. No-one was about. All of a sudden I heard running behind us. There was no way we were going to outrun them. They grabbed us from behind and chucked us to the floor. I was lying on the pavement and all I could see was James but the next thing I saw was a shoe coming towards my face. That knocked me completely unconscious. 
James: One of the boys started kicking Dain's face really rapidly. There was a lot of aggression and shouting of "gay boys". Every time I tried to crawl closer to Dain, I was dragged along the pavement. At that point, a taxi drove past and called the police. I remember standing up for the first time and Dain looked at me and said, "I can't see." 
Dain's facial injuries after the attackDain: My eye socket was completely shattered. I had haemorrhages in both my eyes and fractures on my cheeks. My tooth was chipped and my nose was broken as well. I remember being in hospital and kept asking, "Am I going to be able to see again?" They said, "We can't tell you because everything is so swollen." They couldn't even open my eyes. 


Image copyrightDain in hospital after the attack

James and I were very close anyway but spending that much time with each other really proved to me how strong our relationship is. I'm a very resilient person and I'm not going to live my life how someone else wants me to. I'm not going to let anyone change that. If anything, this has made me want to be who I am even more. 
James: It's made him stronger and it's made him not care about what other people think and to go out there and be himself even more, whereas it's done the opposite to me. It's changed me. I've changed my thought process and mindset, how I think, how I look, how I speak, who I'm with, where we go and it's sad because I remember how we were before it happened and I look at us now and it's upsetting because it's them who made this happen. That's what's hard to accept. 
It's a year since it happened and I thought things would probably get easier but they haven't. When we're out and about he wants us to look like we're together obviously but I'm scared of something similar happening again. It wasn't like that a year ago. We didn't go down the street holding hands but I wasn't fully aware of us making sure that we weren't seen as a couple. 
I couldn't ever forgive the people who attacked us or forget what happened. It will stay with me and I'm sure it will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

BBC


  • From the section Magazine

  • Both attackers, Gage Vye-Parminter and Matthew Howes, pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm and assault and were sentenced to seven years in prison.

    1 comment:

    Frederick Wright said...

    This is so tragic, and it does not reflect the Brighton that I remember from my younger days. I'm pleased the story has a happy ending in this case, the two assault victims have found strength in their relationship, and the vicious attackers have been put in jail where they belong. When I lived in London, I'd head to Brighton occasionally for a weekend break. Pleasant, diverse, walkable little town with nice seafood restaurants. I could never be part of the thriving gay community there, of course, but it seemed like everyone was quite tolerant at the time - 1990s.

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