Gay man punched, spat on and bitten in homophobic attack

Lewis North, 32, was left with a swollen and badly bruised face after the attack in the early hours of Sunday. (Provided)

A man who was bitten and spat on while being brutally attacked on his way home from a gay pub says he is scared to return to the city but is determined to regain his confidence.

Lewis North, 32, was walking home from New Foresters in Nottingham and was passing the Victoria Center when he was confronted by a lone man at around 2.30am on Sunday. “I could see someone far away in front of me and this person was trying to hide, but I didn’t really know what he was doing,” he tells Yahoo News.

After passing some pillars inside the mall, he says a man jumped at him and “tried to scare him.” “He is telling me that he is going to stab me. He’s going to kill me. He’s going to beat me up for being gay. “He’s telling me that he shouldn’t be allowed to go out, that I shouldn’t be allowed to walk down the street,” North says.

After replying, “fuck you”, North, originally from North Lincolnshire, says he walked out of the building into a courtyard when the man started punching him. He added: “I go straight to the ground and he starts beating me up and I’m like, what the hell is going on here?”

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Fortunately, North’s injuries are improving, but he’s still nervous about going out on the town at night. (Provided)

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North says he screamed for help but no one was around to intervene, but then he had the opportunity to hit back and managed to pin the attacker to the ground. During the struggle, he says the man bit his ear and spit on him.

At some point during the fight, North says he managed to grab his attacker’s watch and threw it onto the road in the hopes that it would hit a car and get someone’s attention, but to no avail. With no sign of the attacker backing down, North says he felt “very overwhelmed” and collapsed to the ground.

He says the sharp fall caused his Apple Watch to notify emergency services, as well as his close friends and family, that he had fallen and prompted a 999 call on his phone. The man continued hitting him, calling him a “fuck” and a “kid” and asking him if he thought it was acceptable to be gay, recalls North, who is director of his own architecture and interiors. and landscape design business.

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Despite his ordeal, North is determined to regain his confidence and get back out there. (Provided)

He adds: “There comes a point where I can’t take anything anymore, that’s when they just give up and I guess that’s where I get most of my facial injuries.”

North, who was left with cuts on his head and a swollen face, says he later remembers seeing blue lights in the distance and his attacker getting away from him. After turning the corner and telling police what happened and saying, “that man needs to be arrested,” he says an officer responded, “You don’t need to tell me how to do my job, I know what I’m doing.”

“I was like, ‘I’m sorry, what?’ “I’m mauled like a dog here and I want security from you, and you’re pushing me away,” North recalls. He says he then walked back to New Foresters and spoke to his friends and security at the entrance, when police caught him. She met with him and told him that they would take a witness statement the next morning.

‘I’m determined to get back out there’

North says he went to Lord Roberts on Tuesday, a gay-friendly pub in the city, and noticed the mood had changed between him and his friends.

“I was very scared. I had to change the way I normally got there and I was scared for one of my friends who I didn’t get a response from,” he adds. “Perceptions changed a little bit and the group dynamic changed. First of all, everyone they make sure I’m okay, but secondly, they talk about safety in numbers, traveling together, and sharing locations on our phones.

“It’s pretty scary to think we’re going to have to do this in 2024. We’ve just started the year and we’re already seeing hate crimes against our community.”

North says he has felt emotionally fragile since the attack and has stayed overnight at a friend’s house so he wouldn’t be home alone at night. However, he says he is determined not to let the ordeal stop him from enjoying nights out on the town, even if he is still “a little scared” of it.

“I need to put myself there. If I don’t, it will only get worse,” she adds. “I’m going to get back on the horse and start riding again. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so I’m much more positive coming out of this.”

Confirming that officers are treating the incident as a hate crime, Nottinghamshire Police Chief Inspector James Walker told Yahoo News UK: “We take all allegations of violence and hate crimes very seriously and Officers responded quickly to an assault on Milton Street on January 7 at around 2.35am.

“The 32-year-old victim was supported by officers at the scene after being punched in the face. We arrested a 22-year-old man for ABH. We are currently treating this as a hate crime. “Investigations are ongoing and we continue to support the victim.”

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North says his friends have been taking extra precautions since the attack, including sharing locations on their phones. (Provided)

Homophobic attacks have increased significantly in the last decade

Homophobic attacks have been increasing in recent years. According to Home Office figures, hate crimes related to sexual orientation decreased by 6%, to 24,102 crimes, in the year ending March 2023, while hate crimes against transgender people increased by 11%, to 4,732 crimes.

However, the small decrease in the first category is actually a change in trend, with the graph below, provided by Statista, showing how crimes committed against people due to their sexual orientation have increased significantly since 2014.

This graph, based on Home Office figures, shows how sexual orientation hate crimes have increased significantly. (statist)

Commenting on the overall increase at the end of last year, Robbie de Santos, Director of External Affairs at Stonewall, said: “Political leaders have not acted seriously or quickly enough. Instead, many of them are filling the public domain with toxic language that dehumanizes LGBTQ+ people and legitimizes violence. The UK government did not implement any type of strategy that responds to its own statistics and reports.

“We need strong, committed leadership that turns away from divisive distractions and instead addresses the real problems of the people of this country. We should not be treated like second-class citizens.”

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