A man in Edinburgh has suffered a homophobic attack at a bar in the city on Friday evening.

Juan Manuel Martin, aged 33 and originally from Spain, has lived in the capital for 7 years and was enjoying some drinks with friends in the city’s popular Cowgate area. He told us:

img_2195“We were having a nice evening when I approached one guy, I told him he was cute, we were chatting for a while but he eventually said he liked girls, which is fine. Suddenly he became really homophobic while we were still in the bar, he took hold of my arm and twisted it back in an arm lock up my back. I said I was sorry and I wouldn’t chat to him anymore, but he became angry and aggressive, saying homophobic things to me. I tried to stay calm so things wouldn’t get worse and my friend and I left the bar right away.”

“I’ve experienced homophobia a lot over the years, especially when out dating guys, but his aggression was just too much. I was in doubt over whether to report it but I think its important in case he does something to another guy.”

Juan has reported the incident to Police Scotland but his experience highlights the difficulties and dangers faced when LGBT people attempt to date in mixed or traditionally ‘straight’ venues. If you have the confidence to approach someone in a bar and start a conversation with a person of the same sex, some will instantly weigh-up the risk of an extreme reaction from that person. Most sensible people will have an equally sensible reaction – usually they’ll be flattered at the attention but politely decline if they’re straight or not interested.

But occasionally, as many of us have experienced over the years, some people, especially those ‘macho’ straight men, take offence to being chatted up by someone of the same sex which so often triggers an aggressive and physical reaction. It’s as if merely chatting to a gay or bi man somehow threatens their very masculinity and there is an overwhelming need to demonstrate just how ‘manly’ they are by using their fists.

With his arm still in pain several days after the incident, Juan has taken the decision to look for self-defence classes in the city so he can be prepared for anything like that happening in the future. He says:

“If someone attacks me I want to know how to do something about it and protect myself. You just never know how someone is going to react. You could be chatting and chatting to a guy and then hours later he reacts and something bad happens. I always try to be around other people, especially with girls as they can have a calming effect on guys if they react badly.”

Recently published research by the UK Government of over 100,000 participants found that 40% of LGBT people had experienced a homophobic incident in the past 12 months. In Scotland, LGBT hate crime is at its highest ever level at 1161 charges for the year to March 2018, with Equality Network research conducted in 2017 indicating that 71% of us who experienced hate incidents did not report them to the Police.

If you are worried about an incident or want to report a hate crime, contact Police Scotland on 101 or you can get in touch with your local 3rd Party Reporting Centre.


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