East London: Gay couple viciously assaulted, threatened with ‘wood panel with nails’ in homophobic attack

A picture of the back of the yellow and blue high vis jacket of a Metropolitan Police officer in London amid a rise in homophobic and transphobic hate crime in the UK

Police have launched an investigation after a man and his partner were assaulted in a suspected homophobic attack in Chadwell Heath, East London.

The gay couple, aged in their 20s, were confronted by a group of six men while on High Road in Chadwell Heath at 5.30pm on Sunday (1 October). 

Callum Griggs and Brad Balueta told Yahoo News UK that they were subjected to homophobic abuse and threatened with a wooden panel with nails in it by the group of unknown men.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed to PinkNews that one of the victims was punched in the head, sustaining cuts and bruising as a result of the incident.

The victim required hospital treatment following the attack, and has since been discharged. 

No arrests have been made. A Met spokesperson said: “While police are still investigating the circumstances, at this stage the assault is being treated as homophobic.”

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Balueta said a group of six or seven youths “began to fire homophobic slurs” at the couple as they walked by, calling “batty boys” and “f**s”.

“Callum calmly asked them what they said, and one told him he knew where he lived, then named the street, and told him, ‘I will kill you’,” Balueta said. 

“I am out and proud but in all my life I have never felt so scared. He clearly knew where my boyfriend lived, and was very aggressive.”

He said the group kept jeering at the couple before one of them grabbed the wooden panel with nails in it. Balueta said one person “sucker-punched” Griggs in the back of the head before three people from the group began “punching and kicking” him.

“So many people were staring but nobody came to help,” Balueta added. 

Eventually, two women in a passing car helped the couple, and they spent hours in hospital. 

Balueta said they wanted to go public because people watched the attack happen and did not stop to help.

“We wanted to go public because so many people just watched and did nothing,” he said. “This has been happening to our community for years and is still happening in front of our very eyes today.

“Verbal or physical, homophobia and transphobia is a real thing, it needs to be called out.”

A Met spokesperson said: “The Met is aware of the corrosive effect of Hate Crime and is determined to bring those responsible for such crimes to justice.

“A dedicated LGBTQ+ liaison officer will have oversight of the investigation and provide support to the victims.

Recorded hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people have risen in the UK in recent years

record number of hate crimes were committed against trans people last year in England and Wales. 

In the year ending March 2023, 4,732 hate crimes against transgender people were recorded – an 11 per cent increase on the previous year. The Home Office report admitted that comments by politicians and the media over the last year may have led to an increase in these offences.

Homophobic hate crimes also fell by 6 per cent over the last year to 24,102, the first fall since March 2013. 

In August, the LGBTQ+ community in the UK was shaken after two men were stabbed in a homophobic attack at Two Brewers – a popular queer nightclub in Clapham High Street in London. 

The men, aged in their 20s and 30s, were taken to hospital following the incident, but both were later discharged.

One of the victims said he wasn’t “left feeling sad, nor angry or confused” after the devastating attack. But he was left reeling with “so many questions” about what could lead to someone feeling “it’s okay to attack anyone … whatever their reasons”. 

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.