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Woman Presents Butt Tattoo as Evidence in UK Gay Bash Case

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Aug 19, 2011
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A spat between two British women allegedly culminated in an anti-gay attack earlier this year. But the defendant in the case told a jury that although it was true she had punched another woman, the fracas was not driven by homophobic bias. The defendant said that she herself had previously been in a lesbian relationship.

As proof of her support toward the GLBT community, the defendant, Lauren Proverbs, 21, submitted a photograph of a rainbow tattoo that Ms. Proverbs said was on her buttock, British newspaper the Daily Mail reported Aug. 17. Proverbs also said that when she got the tattoo, in 2008, she was involved with another woman.

The argument between Proverbs and Gina Landon, the victim of the alleged assault, took place at a restaurant in Hertfordshire. According to Landon, she told Proverbs that she was talking to her girlfriend, who was also there at the time, and Proverbs responded with anti-gay utterances.

Proverbs "called me a fucking dyke and a fucking lesbian," Landon told the court.

The row escalated into an assault during which Proverbs not only punched Landon, but stomped on her, Landon said.

"I was slightly delirious at the time," Landon said, describing how she lay on the ground with a bloody mouth after the blow, "but I remember her picking up her foot and stamping down really hard on my ribs."

Proverbs said that she acted in self-defense when she was assailed by Landon, noted an Aug. 18 posting about the case at Advocate.com.

The case resulted in a hung jury, the Mail article said. The judge dismissed the case at that point, leaving Proverbs free and clear.

Though British law is considerably more accepting of gay and lesbian families -- U.S. law denies same-sex couples any federal recognition, even if they are married in one of the six states that offers marriage parity -- a number of high profile anti-gay attacks have taken place in London in recent years.

A 62-year-old gay man named Ian Baynham was attacked and fatally injured by three teens. The attack took place in Trafalgar Square on Sept. 25, 2009. According to media reports, the three teens were acting rudely and shouting profanity. When Baynham confronted the teens about their behavior, they beat him.

Baynham had just been hired as a civil servant with the U.K. Border Agency after a long job hunt, the media reported. He was out with a friend to celebrate when the encounter took place.

Baynham suffered brain damage in the attack and was on a respirator; the machines were turned off after two weeks, and Baynham died on Oct. 13, 2009. Two female suspects, both 17, and a male suspect, 18, were subsequently apprehended at a London home.

In 2004, four teens kicked and beat a gay man to death in London while recording the killing using a cell phone camera. In 2006, two young men murdered a gay bartender in the city.

In 2010, according to official statistics, hate crimes across the U.K. had doubled over the previous year. Nearly 5,000 bias-motivated crimes targeted GLBTs that year, the Associated Press reported on Dec. 1, 2010.

The "gay, not guilty" defense has been used in the United States on at least one occasion. In April of this year, a young man accused in the brutal beating of 26-year-old Damian Furtch owned responsibility for the attack, but denied that it was a hate crime, saying that he was also gay.

Two men assaulted Furtch outside of a Greenwich Village McDonald’s on March 27. According to an Anti-Violence Project alert circulated in the wake of the attack, Furtch had left the restaurant seeking to avoid trouble. The two men followed him onto the street and attacked, leaving him with facial contusions and a black eye. According to Furtch, the men screamed anti-gay insults at him. The assault was captured on security video.

Police arrested one suspect in connection with the attack, a homeless man named Anthony Bray. The 21-year-old Bray said that he assaulted Furtch, but not out of antipathy toward gays, since -- Bray said -- he himself was gay.

To Furtch, that did not change the tenor of the attack. "The fact that the attacker in custody alleges he is gay does not change the fact that he shouted anti-gay slurs while attacking me," a statement issued by Furtch read in part.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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