Rugby: Ex-British star Gareth Thomas opts for apology not charges after homophobic attack

Gareth Thomas, former Wales rugby captain, said he was attacked for his sexuality but he decided to opt for "restorative justice" with a 16-year-old boy involved.
Gareth Thomas, former Wales rugby captain, said he was attacked for his sexuality but he decided to opt for "restorative justice" with a 16-year-old boy involved.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM TWITTER / @GARETHTHOMAS14

LONDON (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) - A former British international rugby star said on Sunday (Nov 18) that he had chosen to ask for an apology, rather than criminal charges, after being attacked for being gay, in a bid to send out a "positive message".

Gareth Thomas, the former Wales rugby captain, posted a video on social media, sporting cuts and bruises to his face, in which he said he had been attacked last Friday in Cardiff, his home town.

Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009 and retired in 2011, said he was attacked for his sexuality but he decided to opt for "restorative justice" with a 16-year-old boy involved, which meant he could address his attacker rather than press charges.

Thomas, 44, said he wanted his social media post to spread a"positive message" which comes as figures show hate crimes against the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and others) community are on the rise in Britain.

"Last night I was a victim in my home city of a hate crime for my sexuality," Thomas said in the video.

"I want to say thank you to the police, who were involved and allowed me to do restorative justice to the people that did this because I thought they could learn more that way.

"And also to the people of Cardiff who supported me and helped me because there's a lot of people out there who want to hurt us. But, unfortunately for them, there's a lot more who want to help us heal. So this, I hope, will be a positive message."

A 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named, has since apologised, according to local police.

Since coming out as gay, Thomas has campaigned on gay rights issues.

Government data shows that reports of hate crimes against people on the basis of their sexuality jumped 27 per cent in 2017, with almost 12,000 incidents lodged with the police. The British government in October announced plans to enhance training for police handling hate crime, which includes offences motivated by hostility on the grounds of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and trans identity.