Police seek witnesses to homophobic attack that led to viral smiling selfie

Police have appealed for people who may have witnessed an alleged homophobic attack to come forward.

Blair Wilson, a 21-year-old from Neilston, East Renfrewshire, posted a defiant and bloody selfie after “being attacked for being gay” on June 29.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had paid tribute to the teen after his message went viral online.

Police have now appealed for witnesses who may have seen the incident to come forward.

The incident incident took place on Main Street in Neilston at around 10.30 pm.

A police release states: “[Wilson] was walking in Main Street when another man shouted homophobic comments at him. He then approached the victim before kicking and punching his face and body.

“The man believed to be responsible for the attack is described as being white, of slim build, dyed blonde hair and wearing a dark jacket.”

The man was “carrying a blue backpack with green palm trees on it” and was “in the company of another male and three women.”

Police (Wattie Cheung/Getty)

Sergeant Nik Rossi at Giffnock Police Office said: “We have been carrying out extensive enquiries since the assault was reported including reviewing CCTV footage and interviewing local people.

“However, I am now appealing for anyone who may have been in the area, which would have been busy at the time and who has information which can help identify the person responsible to get in touch via 101 quoting incident number 5076 of 29/6/2018.

“Information can also be given to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Speaking at Pride Glasgow on Saturday, Sturgeon praised Wilson, saying: “Instead of cowering away, [Wilson] spoke up and let me say this; the principles and the values demonstrated by that young man, of dignity, of courage and of compassion are the values that should define our country. So Blair, we all stand with you.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses the assembled crowd at Glasgow Pride (Robert Perry/Getty)

Wilson told the BBC: “I had about 5,000 mails on Facebook from everyone I know saying ‘oh my goodness, I’m at pride and Nicola Sturgeon is speaking about you’.

“I nearly fainted. I could not believe it.

“My mum and dad and family had [gone] on holiday a few days before. Obviously my mum had seen the video of Nicola Sturgeon on Facebook and she phoned me crying saying how proud she was of me. She couldn’t believe the first minister was speaking about me.”

He continued: “Since seeing my selfie, as trivial as it sounds, it can trigger an emotional connection with someone and I think that’s when people really start to care about an issue.

“Nicola Sturgeon speaking about it at Pride as well really struck close to people who maybe wouldn’t have necessarily thought about that being as big a deal right now.”