'Terrifying' homophobic attack in Galway leaves victim shaken

A non-binary individual described how they suffered an attack at the Spanish Arch just a week after Galway Pride.

A row of building along a bay

“Most queer people have had things shouted at them on the street. I’ve had my fair share of things shouted at me.”

Content Warning: Contains descriptions of violence and homophobiaAn individual suffered a homophobic attack at the Spanish Arch just a week after Galway Pride.

Zerhanah, a bisexual who identifies as non-binary, was the victim of this hateful homophobic attack when they came to the aid of a friend who “got about six punches to the face”.

“I ran over to try pull him away,” said the Dubliner, who now lives in Galway as an NUIG law and taxation student.

“As soon as I stood up to pull him away, I was thrown onto the ground by one of them. The word ‘faggot’ was still being thrown around, I could hear it being shouted at me. I went over on my ankle; couldn’t stand up, couldn’t walk. I was basically on the ground wailing for help.”

“Most queer people have had things shouted at them on the street. I’ve had my fair share of things shouted at me – faggot, dyke, you name it I’ve been called it, but I’ve never been physically attacked for it before and, obviously, it was terrifying,” they told the Connacht Tribune.

Fortunately, Zerhanah’s friend is fine following the attack, with a sore jaw but no bruising. “He knows self-defence so he managed to get out of it,” they explain. “Unfortunately, I took the brunt of the soreness. I’m still not properly able to walk without the crutch at times.”

The late-night homophobic attack, which necessitated an ambulance ride to the hospital, caused emotional suffering as well as physical.

“It did shock me; the reality that I’m living somewhere you can’t just go outside and be yourself, be openly queer and expect to feel safe. You can’t brush it off. It’s scary leaving the house because I don’t know if this will happen again. A lot of people think this wouldn’t happen, that we’ve moved past that, but the issue is we really haven’t.”

Zerhanah made a statement to the Gardaí on the night of the assault but did not make an official complaint when the Gardaí made contact again a few days later. This could be because there is no CCTV footage of the incident.

Despite the post-Pride attack, Former Mayor, Councillor Niall McNelis said, “I wouldn’t like the message to go out that Galway is not safe, because generally it is.

“But yes, recently we have had problems with assaults, and they are increasing and we have to ask is that because we are socialising outdoors, or because of the level of alcohol or because of large congregations in places like Eyre Square.”

Meanwhile, Gay Pride chairperson and city councillor Owen Hanley acknowledged that there is still negativity towards the LGBT+ community after the rainbow flag was stolen during the festival.

Zerhanah’s traumatic experience only serves as a grim reminder to the LGBTQ+ community that, despite societal and legislative changes, homophobia is still alive and well in Ireland.

If you have been affected by this story or are looking to reach out to someone for support or advice or just to talk, there are numerous services available for LGBTQ+ people, listed below, and many offer instant messaging support.

LGBT Helpline

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