A gay man has posted a video recording a man hurling homophobic abuse at him and a friend on a bus as they returned from Pride Edinburgh.
Speaking with KaleidoScot, Rhys Smith, from Livingston, said the man started the verbal attack about a minute before he started recording the incident.
Smith and his friend Kerri-Jayne were returning into town having been home for something to eat and a change of clothes after spending the day at Edinburgh Pride dressed as Ab-Fab characters when the man, starting hurling at them homophobic abuse. Earlier that day the two meet Nicola Sturgeon with whom they took a selfie.
Smith told KaleidoScot: “We were exchanging photos and having a conversation about the day we had at Pride Edinburgh and how good it was. As I was talking to Kerri-Jane I could see a guy talking, from the corner of my eye, making it quite obvious he was talking about me, by nodding his head, pointing and calling me an arsehole.
“At first I ignored him, but then I told Kerri-Jayne that ‘I think that man just called me an arsehole’. We then turned around to see who the person was, and he just confirmed it by saying “arsehole” even louder and pointing at us.
“We asked him what ‘was the problem, why are you talking to us like that?’
“But it got out of hand as he started calling me a faggot and then pointed to Kerri-Jayne saying ‘you and your boyfriend are just a pair of arseholes’.”
“I asked him: ‘Am I gay, am I a faggot or am I her boyfriend? What is wrong?'”
“He just continued addressing me ‘you are a faggot, you are an arsehole’, after-which I was concerned that this could escalate and that is when I started recording.
“It was totally unprovoked,” said Smith, “I don’t even recall us saying anything particularly offensive or controversial.”
A frenzied exchange broke up between the 23-year-old and a retired man, leading the latter to reply: “You probably take it up the arsehole”.
In the video Smith can be heard asking the passenger who appears to be in his late 60s: “Are we going down that road? Is that what you don’t like?”
The man replies: “Well you look like it.”
Kerri-Jayne can be heard reacting: “Look at the fucking state of you”
The man, who makes it clear in the video that he is retired, repeatedly calls Smith an “areshole” before hurling at him “you probably take it up the arsehole,” with fellow bus passengers gasping in disbelief and disapproval.
Smith told KaleidoScot: “This attack has not been provoked, as much as people don’t see that in the video as naturally I only started recording it a bit later after he attacked us. And I can understand also that people don’t see our reaction as the most calm or collected, even as if we are attacking an old couple. But he started abusing us totally unprovoked and he was directing it at us for the sole reason of me being gay.”
Posting on Facebook, Smith wrote: “I am well aware of the fact that other people have been abused and heckled and worse in much more serious circumstances. However the man in this video is just as bad.”
He contiued: “We done absolutely nothing to antagonise him or draw attention to ourselves on this bus. Granted from this video it seems that our response seems like the more aggressive party, but we reacted in defence. The principle of the matter is that no abuse or hate crime should be tolerated. Gay, straight, black, white, disabled NOTHING! Its 2016 for goodness sake.”
A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “We are investigating the circumstances of a hate crime, which occurred on a bus in the centre of Edinburgh on Saturday night, July 2nd.
“Our enquiries into this matter are ongoing as we look to establish the full set of circumstances and anyone with relevant information is asked to contact police on 101.”
UPDATE: A suspect has been arrested and charged with hate crime.
Brett Herriot, Chair of Pride Edinburgh, said in a statement: “We at Pride Edinburgh condemn this homophobic attack and are deeply saddened that the events happened in the hours following the biggest pride event ever in the capital city.
“We worked hard to spread the message that Love is Love – and that work continues.
We will not bow down to any form of homophobic or transphobic abuse and we will stand together in the face of adversity.
“Diversity is a beautiful thing.”
Last week homophobic and racist stickers were spotted around Glasgow following a massive spike in incidents of hate speech across the UK in the wake of the result of the EU referendum.
Anyone experiencing a hate crime is advised to report it to Police Scotland, either via their on-line Hate Crime form (non-urgent) or by calling 999.
Watch the video recorded by Smith here: