Wales

Homophobic and transphobic abuse: 'Beaten up for looking gay'

Jack Gunter Image copyright Jack Gunter
Image caption Jack Gunter said the attack in Bridgend last year has changed his life

Jack Gunter was beaten by two men who kicked him in the face and called him "faggot" and "queer".

The 22-year-old said last year's attack was the latest homophobic abuse act he has suffered since coming out aged 13.

LGBT+ charity Stonewall Cymru said homophobic and transphobic bullying was a common experience for young people.

Recalling the attack, Mr Gunter said: "They shouted faggot across the street. They punched me to the floor and one of them kicked me in the face."

He said the unprovoked attack happened outside a chip shop in Bridgend after a night out with a friend.

"I don't know why they did it, it must have been because they thought I looked gay," he said.

Mr Gunter said he was left so shaken by the experience he no longer goes out with friends at night.

Since the release of Stonewall Cymru's report in 2017, pupils in Wales have started to take matters into their own hands.

Films highlighting the issue have been made by pupils from three schools and got their premiere at this weekend's Iris Prize Film Festival in Cardiff.

About 140 pupils from 13 schools across Wales attended Iris Education, held at Cardiff's Cineworld on Friday.

Image copyright Iris Education
Image caption Ysgol Eirias also premiered their film The End of the Bench at Iris Prize Festival

Seren Williams, 17 who featured in one of the films Lolfa/The Lounge a film by Ysgol Gwynllyw in Pontypool, Torfaen, said: "I wanted to be part of it because they often don't show films for the LGBT+ community.

"Almost all films are geared towards cis gender and straight people.

"I've got friends who are LGBT+ and although I don't identify myself I really wanted to help them and raise issues that worry them."

Ysgol Gwynllyw plans to use the film to educate younger students and will play it during an assembly.

Image copyright Iris Education
Image caption Students also took part in a series of workshops as part of the premiere

Meanwhile, pupils at Cardiff school Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Plasmawr have set up Digon, a group that tells students about the impact of homophobic and transphobic bullying.

Group leader Manon Hammond, 15, said: "A friend of mine said that she was recently pushed out of the school's changing rooms by a group of girls because they were uncomfortable changing around someone gay."

But she believes the situations is improving: "In the last year name calling has declined at Plasmawr significantly.

"Using 'gay' or 'faggot' is no longer seen as a harmless throwaway comment and I like to think that Digon is responsible for this."

Image copyright Iris Education
Image caption Ysgol Bro Edern filming Pass It On which premiered at the Iris Prize Festival

Stonewall Cymru also runs its Train the Trainer programme to train teachers about homophobic and transphobic bullying.

Mr Gunter said: "I wish I'd have seen projects like this when I was back in school as it would have made me more comfortable and normal to be open about my sexuality.

"It shows to other students that there are people like us in the world and they need to acknowledge that it's not weird or wrong."

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