Words: Alastair James; pictures: Instagram/@_ajben
Two people have been arrested after another homophobic assault in Liverpool over the weekend.
Aodhán Benson, 24 from Belfast, was attacked on Saturday (10 July 2021) morning after spending a night in the city centre with his friends.
He said he was attacked outside a Tesco on Bold Street by a group of men, who also yelled homophobic slurs.
“I don't want to be gay”
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Posting images of himself bruised and with a cut over his left eye on Instagram, Aodhán said: "I was assaulted last night by 4 men on Bold St as I walked home from a night out celebrating the end of uni not content with just hitting me i was called a 'gay f****t c**t' so if you wanna know why Pride exists here it is."
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo later, Aodhán said: “If this is what being gay means, then I don't want to be gay. Literally, if this is what my sexuality results in, then I'll not be gay then, if you just leave me alone.”
Aodhán says the incident happened when a man approached him and took issue with Aodhán calling him ‘love’. Things escalated quickly with the man shouting abuse before hitting Aodhán, who admits he hit the guy back.
He told the Echo: “I wasn't going to stand and let him hit me. But two of his friends then came and I was like, 'Well I can't hit all three of them'."
Thanks to the intervention of friends, Aodhán was able to escape and once the police arrived was taken to hospital.
Police have arrested a 43-year-old man from Liverpool on suspicion of Section 47 Assault. A 33-year-old man from Sefton has also been arrested on suspicion of Section 47 Assault and on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug.
"We will do all we can to keep our streets free from violence and abuse"
In a joint statement between Merseyside Police, the Liverpool City Region Pride Foundation and The Michael Causer Foundation, Detective Chief Inspector Allison Woods said: “Everyone should be free to go out and enjoy themselves safely in Liverpool City Centre and beyond, and we will do all we can to keep our streets free from violence and abuse.
"Police will continue high visibility patrols across the city centre to engage with businesses and members of the public to reassure, listen to concerns and take action where we witness any criminality.”
A spokesperson for The Michael Causer Foundation added: “It is almost 13 years since we lost Michael Causer - a life cut short by abhorrent homophobia.
"While our city region has always been welcoming and supportive of our truly diverse culture, recent events show we cannot be complacent in tackling homophobic attacks on our community."
Michael Causer was a young gay man who was killed in his sleep at a house party in Liverpool in 2008. His parents set up the Foundation in his name to provide support to the city's LGBTQ community.
The weekend's attack is the latest in a number of similar attacks against young LGBT people in Liverpool. Last month, three attacks happened within one week, with one of the victims, Tyler Jones, saying at the time: “Nobody is born this hateful, we need to do better.”
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The spate of attacks led to a protest in Liverpool. The Echo reports that LGBTQ hate crimes in the Merseyside police area were 25% higher between April 2020 and March of this year, compared to a year ago. The figures come from Merseyside Police.
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