Victim of homophobic London bus assault quits UK as she’s sick of being treated as victim
A doctor who was the victim of a homophobic attack on a London bus after a date says social media harassment from the teen attackers forced her to leave the UK.
Melania Geymonat, from Uruguay, was riding the bus with her American date Christine Hannigan after an evening out in West Hampstead in the early hours of May 30 2019 when they were pelted with coins, punched, and had a handbag stolen.
The teens had surrounded the pair, made ‘degrading gestures’ including references to the sex act of scissoring, and asked: “How do you have sex?”
Melania, who was knocked out in the assault, released a picture of the bloodied pair to raise awareness of violence against women and gay people. It hit headlines throughout the world.
The 31-year-old now lives in Geneva, Switzerland, works with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) and has resumed medicine.
She added: “I decided to leave the UK because I felt that I was a victim every day after the attack, as if that episode alone was the centre of who I was. But I am not that episode.
“I was treated and seen as a victim every day, and I feel I’m not. I’m someone who acts upon the
things that happen.
“The final decision was taken when the boys approached me on social media and I went to the police only to find out that there are no regulations regarding social media harassment, and therefore they could not do anything . I felt that was it.”
The Metropolitan Police has been approached for a statement.
Refusing to be a victim, Melania is using the support and exposure she received after the attack to set up a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that aims to tackle hate crimes.
“It was pretty hard to understand myself once again in a world where there is so much hate, but my feeling has always been there is so much love, too,” she added.
“The NGO we’re making is built upon love. Love for who we are, and love to support ourselves in the hardest moments, love to transform painful events into something beautiful as a way of coping.
“I’d like to convey a message of hope. There is always something that can be done, anyone, anywhere, anytime. Be it a word, be it a hug, be it changing our way of thinking, be it creating an NGO, the size doesn’t matter. The intention within us does.”
A 15-year-old was given an eight-month youth referral order, extended from six due to the homophobic nature of the attack, and made to attend diversity lessons.
A second charge of handling stolen goods, related to Melania’s bank card, was included in his sentence.
He and two other youths, aged 16 and 17, each admitted using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress against the two women.
When asked how she felt about the sentences her attackers received, Melania said: “The sentence only reflects that we need diversity and inclusion embedded in our educational system.”