Lesbian couple forced to hide in Tesco back office after terrifying homophobic attack while shopping


Police are searching for three women who launched a homophobic attack on a lesbian couple in Tesco, forcing them to hide in a security office.

The couple were shopping in the supermarket in Gillingham, Kent at around 3.15pm on 31 January, 2021 when they were targeted by the three women.

The offenders are alleged to have used homophobic language towards the victims, who felt so threatened that they were forced to seek refuge inside a security office in the store.

Kent Police confirmed on Tuesday (16 March) that they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

In the six weeks that followed the attack officers carried out “several enquiries” to locate the suspects, and are now reaching out to the public for help in identifying them.

Police have released three CCTV images of the women they would like to speak to. All but one of the women are wearing masks which partly obscure their faces, but it’s hoped their features may be recognised by someone familiar.

Anyone who is able to identify the suspects should call Kent Police on 01634 792209, quoting reference 46/16658/21.

You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously on 0800 555 111 or complete the online form.

Tesco has been contacted for comment.

Hate crime on the rise

Figures from the Home Office show that anti-LGBT+ hate crimes have been on the rise for two years running.

Figures published in October 2020 revealed sexual orientation hate crimes increased 19 per cent (to 15,835) over the last year. Hate crimes against trans people increased by 16 per cent (to 2,450) over the past year.

In response, LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop launched a confidential hate crime service to give advice and support to people in the UK who have experienced abuse or harassment for being LGBT+.

People in the UK can reach Galop by calling 020 7704 2040 or emailing [email protected].

The hate crime helpline is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 4pm. It is run by LGBT+ people, for LGBT+ people, and is completely confidential.