The attack has left the gay community stunned that an attack of this nature could break out against a fellow student on campus, especially so close to the University’s security centre.
“If somebody had told me this would happen on campus, I would not have believed them” said one LGB committee member who wished to remain annonymous.
“You don’t expect a University, especially one as liberal as York, to harbour thugs and homophobes” he said.
YorkPride Chair Tim Guy, joined the chorus of condemnation, pointing to the callous nature of the attack. “This is an appalling assault. But it could have been a lot worse.”
“What they did was unforgivable. A shameful and evil attack that shows even at University some people are still ignorant and moronic about something that is natural.”
The attack occurred after the Saturday night Vanbrugh event, Jaded. The victim suffered a torrant of verbal abuse and intimidation inside, which was not picked up by secuirty or bar staff.
After leaving the event, the victim was attacked on Langwith bridge on his way home to Alcuin College. Police believe that the students involved in the assault outside were the same students engaging in threatening behaviour inside the event.
The University has maintained a stonewall of silence over the incident, refusing to comment on the attack. “It is not our job to comment on incidents like these” said a University spokesman. The University reaction has been widely criticised as “inadequate” and “insulting.”
“By continuing their silence they show that they condone this sort of behaviour. Of course it is a University issue. They should be doing all they can to root out this evil from our campus” an LGB committee member complained.
The attack has given added poignancy and momentum to a ‘Reclaim campus’ campaign, as part of which organisers plan to tie rainbow ribbons around trees on campus. They hope this will remind people that it is “our hope too.” The initiative also hopes to combat growing problems of homophobic graffiti and verbal abuse.
“This campaign is launched at a time when with this most current attack, there are obviously people out there who pose a threat. The point of this is to try and change peoples’ fundamental misconceptions so that attacks like the one last week don’t happen again,” said organiser Nick da Costa.
The York attack comes as the newly introduced Criminal Justice Act is giving hope for many people who have been victims of sexually motivated attacks. The law has increased sentences for assault involving or motivated by sexual orientation.
Although the Criminal Justice Act 2003 does not create an offence for homophobic assault as such, it requires the judge to treat this as an aggravating factor and state in open court any extra elements of the sentence that they are giving for the aggravation.
If you have any information about the incident please contact York Police on 01904 631321, confidentially.