Sunday, May 26News For London

Homophobic tube assault reveals how likely Londoners are to intervene

Two teenagers have been arrested by British Transport Police (BTP) on suspicion of an anti-gay assault in London, which happened on 21 October. The assault has raised a question about how likely Londoners are to intervene when public attacks occur.

A 19-year-old teenager and his friends were travelling on a westbound Jubilee line train between West Ham and North Greenwhich. They were dressed in fancy dress for an event that night when two men boarded the train at West Ham and became verbally abusive.

Police claimed that the offenders were aggressive when challenged and forced the teenager into a headlock, snatched his phone and threatened to stab him.

BTP said in a statement: “They demanded the victim apologise for being gay which eventually the victim did as he was struggling to breathe.” Then they let him go and returned his phone.

The victim did not get injuries but one of the victim’s friends, a 25-year-old woman, was punched sustained bruising when she came to his defence. They left the westbound train at North Greenwich.

Except blame on homophobic behaviors, the attack has aroused heated discussions about security guards and the Bystander Effect —— the greater the number of people present, the less likely people are to help a person in trouble.

Why passengers on the tube did not stop the assault but a young woman stood out? People on Twitter are wondering. Some show an understanding of the fear of stepping in, others express anger about why people count on someone else to tackle it.