A homophobic assault against a Belfast man in Liverpool has been condemned by the LGBTQ+ community in Northern Ireland. Aodhán Benson, 24, was attacked in the early hours of Saturday morning (July 10) on Bold Street in Liverpool City Centre.
Aodhán told PinkNews that he was having drinks with friends celebrating their final day of university. He recalled a man asking him if he had any spare change, and that responded by saying, “sorry, love.”
“He went: ‘Why would you say ‘love?’ What’s ‘love’ about? Only f****ts would say ‘love.’” Aodhán responded by saying that he was gay, in a defensive joking manner, but the man kept at him, so Aodhán asked him to go away. When the attacker would not leave, Aodhán got up to walk away.
As he stood up, the other man head-butted him. Aodhán said he hit back to defend himself when the man’s three friends came over and started attacking him.
Police were called at around 12.25am on Saturday morning and took Aodhán to hospital. He suffered a busted lip, black eye, swollen nose, and a cut above his eye. The horrific incident has had a huge impact on his mental wellbeing. He said he’s “constantly being sick” because he has been traumatised by the assault.
Northern Ireland LGBTQ+ group, The Rainbow Project, condemned the incident on Twitter saying: “We are so sorry to hear about the homophobic assault in Liverpool … Hate crime is on the rise in both Liverpool and in NI.” They also asked people to report hate crimes, as 64% go unreported.
We are sorry to hear about the homophobic assaults in Liverpool and most recently a fella from Belfast who was attacked. We hope Aodhán recovers from his injury.
Hate crime is on the rise in both Liverpool and in NI, but a large percentage doesn't get reported. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/2cpiDHUlGs
— The Rainbow Project (@TRPNI) July 11, 2021
Merseyside Police said two people have been arrested. A 43 year-old man from Liverpool was arrested on suspicion of Section 47 Assault and a 33 year-old man from Sefton has been arrested on suspicion of assault, as well as on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug.
Chief Inspector Col Rooney said that “this was an appalling incident which left a young man shaken and injured. Although we have made arrests, our investigations into the attack will continue. As well as physical violence, we believe that homophobic slurs were directed at the victim and we are treating the attack as a hate crime.”
He continued by reassuring those concerned that, “high visibility officers are out tonight in Liverpool’s Pride Quarter and beyond, and they will continue to patrol over the coming days and weeks.
“After a number of worrying incidents over the last month, we want our LGBT+ community to be reassured that we stand with them: we are committed to protecting them, and we will do whatever we can to bring offenders to justice.”
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