LONDON (WASHINGTON POST) - Two women were punched by male assailants on a London bus after the couple refused to perform a kiss for the gang that surrounded and taunted them, according to an account by one of the victims.
The alleged attack last week was revealed in social media posts by one of the women, Ms Melania Geymonat, who said she was punched and bloodied. The British press and politicians reported on the incident on Friday (June 7).
Ms Geymonat said she and her girlfriend Chris - she did not provide a last name - were travelling on the top deck of a London night bus to Camden Town, a neighbourhood lined with clubs and bars, in the early hours of May 30.
"I had a date with Chris," Ms Geymonat posted on her Facebook page. "We got on the Night Bus, climbed upstairs and took the front seats. We must have kissed or something because these guys came after us."
She said a group of four men were "behaving like hooligans" and demanding they kiss "so they could enjoy watching".
"In an attempt to calm things down, I started making jokes. I thought this might make them go away. Chris even pretended she was sick, but they kept on harassing us, throwing us coins and becoming more enthusiastic about it," Ms Geymonat posted on her Facebook page.
According to her account, the situation then escalated and the men started punching them.
"Suddenly the bus had stopped, the police were there and I was bleeding all over," she wrote.
Police said the incident took place at 2.30am and "the women were then attacked and punched several times before the males ran off the bus. A phone and bag were stolen during the assault."
The two were treated at the hospital for facial injuries.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the incident "a disgusting, misogynistic attack. Hate crimes against the LGBT+ community will not be tolerated in London."
The Metropolitan Police are now investigating and asking any witnesses to come forward.
No arrests have been made and Ms Geymonat's account could not be quickly verified.
Ms Geymonat did post photographs of herself and her partner with bloodied faces and clothes.
Mr Siwan Hayward, director of compliance, policing and on-street services at Transport for London, told the BBC the assault is "sickening" and "utterly unacceptable", adding that "homophobic behaviour and abuse is a hate crime and won't be tolerated on our network".
As news of the attack began to spread, thousands took to social media to express solidarity with the couple.
"Melania and Chris" trended in the United Kingdom on Friday, with many also explaining "this is why we still pride".
London Pride, a month of LGBT+ events culminating in a massive parade on July 6, begins on June 8.