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Homophobia always ‘bubbling under the surface’, says Tube attack victim

·3 min read

A man who was beaten up on a Tube train after being subjected to homophobic abuse said it was “completely demoralising” that nobody stepped in to help.

Alan Hunter, a retail worker from Canada Water in London, said he was assaulted on the London Underground last month after being called a “f*****” by a woman on the train.

It comes as data obtained from police by the PA news agency shows homophobic and transphobic hate crimes recorded by police have reached their highest monthly levels since the pandemic began.

Cuts and bruises on Alan Hunter's face
Alan Hunter said he was beaten after being called a ‘f*****’ (Alan Hunter/PA)

Mr Hunter, 35, said the news “doesn’t really surprise” him and that homophobia is always “bubbling under the surface”.

But he said he was disappointed nobody stepped in to stop the attack, which left him with cuts and extensive bruising on his face.

“People are protecting themselves and trying to be safe in a dangerous place,” he told PA.

“But at the same time, it’s it’s just completely demoralising, if I saw someone getting hurt I would jump in and help.”

Mr Hunter, originally from Newcastle, said he was abused after attending a Steps concert at the O2 Arena on November 27.

A woman called him a “f****** f*****”, he said, after he asked her and a group of her friends to stop using nitrous oxide balloons on the train.

Heated words were exchanged, after which the woman attacked him, Mr Hunter said, and her friends joined in on the assault.

He added: “She pushed us twice in the head, grabbed my hair, I grabbed hers in self defence, and then the six lads jumped on top of us.”

Mr Hunter admitted being verbally abusive towards the woman but only after she used the slur against him.

“Had she not called me a ‘f****** f*****’ I wouldn’t have said anything,” he said.

“I refuse for us to be second class citizens and just stand there and take it.”

Mr Hunter said he had received verbal abuse before, but never anything physical.

Alan Hunter before the attack
(Alan Hunter/PA)

Mr Hunter said there is “an extreme conservatism” among some younger people, which he believes is a contributing factor to the increase in hate crimes.

He believes it has been triggered in part by a rise in populist nationalist politics around the globe.

“With Trumpism and Bolsonaro in Brazil, there’s been very rapidly a rise in such such right-wing politics and it’s given a free mouthpiece to people who for a long time couldn’t say anything,” he said.

“You can’t put Mentos in Coke without the thing absolutely kicking off, and basically politics was the Mentos in the Coke.”

A British Transport Police statement read: “British Transport Police received a report of a homophobically aggravated assault on the Jubilee line at London Bridge station shortly after midnight on Sunday November 28.

“We take hate crimes extremely seriously and are making a number of inquiries into this incident.

“Any witnesses or anyone with information is asked to contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 31 of 28/11/21.”

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