Victim of sickening homophobic attack admits he no longer feels safe in Harrogate

A teenager who was attacked by racist and homophobic thugs in Harrogate in January has admitted he now feels '˜unsafe' in some parts of town.

Thursday, 24th March 2016, 2:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2016, 3:43 pm
Police tape in Harrogate

The 18-year-old was travelling home just past midnight on January 28, when he was targeted by two men in their 40s after getting off the 1C bus.

He walked past the two men who grabbed him and held his arms behind his back. The man who restrained him pushed him forward while the other punched and kicked him in the face.

During the terrifying attack, the men made racial and homophobic slurs towards the teenager who was then left on the street with numerous cuts to his head and face.

The teenager, who talked to the Harrogate Advertiser about the attack this week, was left shocked and hurt and said he was scared to think how the men had realised his sexuality.

He said: “I had never met the men before in my life but they came out with a lot of homophobic and racial slurs. It really scared me that they knew I was gay because it left me thinking did somebody tell them? How did they find out?

“When I got into the house I couldn’t function properly. I blacked out, I was sick and my memory kept fading in and out. When I started to calm down I got upset because I was at home feeling unsafe.

“It made me question myself in a lot of different aspects. I was embarrassed as I got beat up and didn’t know anything about it. I like to show people that I’m capable and strong but something like this happens and I feel like I’m not.”

Many residents expressed their shock that the attack had taken place in Harrogate, but the teenager admitted violent incidents were becoming more commonplace in town and added there were now areas where he feels unsafe.

“A few things like this do go on in Harrogate. Young people round here are starting to become less shocked because they know there are some bad crowds around here.

“There’s a lot of areas now where teenagers are taking drugs and getting into fights. I feel safe in my community but when you start to go into these areas you start to worry.

“I’m at the point now I feel like I need to avoid certain streets near me. Maybe the older generation are surprised when they hear about these incidents but not young people.”

Despite reporting the attack to police, the teenager stressed there were still issues surrounding the reporting of hate crime which have been discussed within the Harrogate LGBT Youth Group.

During the group’s recent meeting one girl revealed she did not inform the police even after she was attacked for being transgender as she didn’t feel anything could be done.

She said: “Two men followed me out of the bar after I told them I was transgender and attacked me. I didn’t feel like there was anything the police could have done because it wasn’t in a public place and there were no cameras.”

Tommo Snape, who helps run the youth group, said: “The more people report hate crime, the more notice police will take of what’s happening. We are trying to look into hate crime reporting, making it easier for people to go online and fill out a form anonymously.”