In a hate crime just hours after Pride Month drew to a close, two gay men were harassed by homophobes who hurled insults, objects and punches at them at a Cardiff, Wales gas station.
Yang Wu, a 27-year-old biomedical student at Cardiff University, was left bloodied and faces thousands in medical bills after a man threw him to the ground and punched him in the face – all for standing up for his gay friend.
Wu and local law enforcement told PinkNews that he and his friend were set upon by two men who exited a taxi outside an Esso gas station on 3 Cathedral Road in the early hours of Thursday (1 July).
The tissue engineering and regenerative medicine student was left hospitalised after one of the men punched him in the face in a senseless attack that has touched off a new wave of unease and anger following a number of similar unprovoked assaults of LGBT+ people in England.
The South Wales Police, the territorial police force which covers Cardiff, confirmed to PinkNews that investigators are treating the incident as a hate crime.
After a night of celebrations in town, Wu brought his friend to the station to grab cigarettes from the Shop N’ Drive mini-mart at around 12:30am only for two men to corner them both and call them “f*****s”.
Wu sought to temper the thugs by clarifying that they aren’t a couple, but this did little to reel in the men who mounted a frenzied assault against them.
Dashing into the supermarket, the men, Wu said, grabbed “something from the shops and threw it at us”.
“I was very irritated and my friend was drunk,” Wu said, “so I acted quite roughly to protect him when the attacker threw a second object at us.”
While Wu’s bravery meant his friend was unscathed, the attackers instead trained their focus on him. “I was punched right on the face by one of them,” he said.
As the men fled back into their taxi, surveillance footage showed, they left Wu nearly unconscious with a knocked-out front tooth, a broken nose and a burst lip. Wu claimed that he encountered only indifference from the shop staffer, who “didn’t help to call the police”.
Wu dialled 999 himself – his friend too inebriated to do so – before filing a police report and walking his friend home.
His doctor has said he may have “lost his [front] tooth forever” as a result of the pummelling.
South Wales Police said that officers are investigating the incident which left the victim “understandably shocked”.
“CCTV shows the male suspect leaving the area with another unknown male,” a spokesperson said. “Enquiries are continuing to identify and arrest those responsible.
“The individual or anyone else with information is asked to contact South Wales Police quoting occurrence *229672.
“A hate crime is any crime motivated by hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.
“Hate crime has no place in society and has always been a priority for South Wales Police.
“We encourage people, whether they are a victim or a witness of hate crime, to report it directly to South Wales Police without fear.”
The mood in Britain has been one of bristling tension as the nation witnesses a years-long surge in anti-LGBT+ hate crime. In recent months, queer folk have been beaten unconscious, been called slurs for simply waving a flag, or had their faces slashed and underwear torn just for smoking in a car parking lot.
A spate of at least four homophobic attacks in Liverpool, England, especially has left the local LGBT+ community paralysed with fear and frustration.
According to police data, homophobic and transphobic hate crime has more than doubled in England and Wales between 2014 and 2018. There were 4,600 LGBT+ hate crimes reported in 2014, but in 2018 that number rose to 11,600.
“I can’t believe things like this still happen,” Wu said.