WHILE it is true to say that thankfully, and not before time, society has become a great deal more accepting and understanding of the LGBTQ community, the appalling, unprovoked attack on a gay couple in East London, in broad daylight, last Sunday (just the latest of several similar attacks in the nation’s capital, this year) is a clear indication that homophobia is still around and thriving.

Callum Griggs (23) and his partner, Brad Balueta (24) were making their way home along Chadwell High Road last Sunday evening when they were subjected to homophobic slurs by a gang of six or seven, obviously mindless, young thugs.

The confrontation escalated and Mr Griggs was viciously attacked, kicked, punched and battered around the head with a piece of wood studded with nails - for which he required hospital treatment.

While he may soon recover from his physical injuries, the mental trauma inflicted on him and his partner will stay with both of them for a great deal longer.

What makes Sunday’s attack all the more abhorrent is the fact that, as Mr Balueta observed ‘there were a lot people around - but no one came to our assistance’ - except for the female driver of a passing car, who seeing Mr Griggs’ injuries, stopped to help.

It is grotesque that in a supposedly modern, civilised, Western society, this kind of bigotry still exists.

The lesson we must take from this and similar incidents is, that while recognising that things have improved for our community, we must not become complacent.

There are still a lot of people out there who regard us as ‘non-persons’.

We can only hope that when the perpetrators of this latest outrage against the LGBTQ community are brought to justice, the cowardly thugs will feel the full weight of the law and serve a significant period behind bars.

Apropos of which, and this not only applies to hate crime against the LGBTQ community, is it not time for a change in the law that would make all members of ‘gang’ attacks, equally culpable – not just the person or persons who actually wielded weapons or inflicted physical injury?

I was 27 when homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967 and it really saddens and angers me that 56 years later LGBTQ people still live in fear of discrimination and violence.


Norwich Avenue West, Bournemouth