Gay fears rise after street gang’s murderous attack

PUBLISHED: 21:39 03 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:35 05 October 2010

The street where Olly was stabbed on August 28

The street where Olly was stabbed on August 28

THE gay community of East London has declared enough is enough’ after a young man was left fighting for his life following a brutal homophobic stabbing by a gang of youths. Detectives are treating the street attack as attempted murder. The 20-year-old, known as Olly, was stabbed seven times behind Shoreditch Church on his way to a gay friendly’ pub. Olly had been walking with a woman companion to the George & Dragon in Hackney-rd when he was attacked in nearby Boundary-st around 11pm on August 28

THE East End’s gay community has declared enough is enough’ after a young man was left fighting for his life following a brutal homophobic stabbing by a gang of youths.

A 20-year-old, known as Olly, was stabbed seven times in the back and chest, outside a gay-friendly pub this week.

He remains in a critical condition in hospital and police have launched an attempted murder investigation.

Both Bethnal Green and Bow MP George Galloway and Abjol Miah, the leader of the Respect group at Tower Hamlets council, have called for all communities to condemn last week’s attack in Boundary Street.

With 47 homophobic attacks in Tower Hamlets over the last 12 months, one man called the Advertiser to say: “It’s time we stood up for ourselves. I’m fed up with people almost excusing this kind of violence.”

Police have branded last Thursday’s assault as “evil” and are treating it as homophobic. Cops believe the 20-year-old had been walking to the gay-friendly George and Dragon pub in Hackney Road with a woman when he was attacked at the junction of Boundary Street and Austin Street in Shoreditch onThursday.

He was hounded by a group of around five teenage boys, hit over the head with a glass bottle then stabbed seven times in the back and chest. He underwent life-saving surgery at Whitechapel’s Royal London Hospital on Friday morning.

The stabbing is also being linked to an assault in the same area 24 hours before in which a man and woman were both attacked and were kicked and punched by a group of youths.

Det Insp Howard Way, of Tower Hamlets police, condemned the attack as “evil”, but although it was being treated as a homophobic crime, he was keeping an open mind about motive.

Three men have been arrested, but police refused to give any details about their backgrounds.

MP George Galloway said: “This is a sickening and vile assault that I am sure will unite the diverse community of Tower Hamlets in condemnation. “A near fatal knife attack by a group of people on a defenceless man is horrific enough. The fact that this also appears to be a homophobic hate crime compounds the evil.

“There is a rich and tolerant mix in Tower Hamlets. It’s one of the good things about our borough, and I am determined to keep it that way. Everyone needs to accept that people are different.”

His Respect colleague Cllr Miah added: “There is no justification, in any language or any belief, for savagely setting upon a young man like this.” The gay community has grown in Bethnal Green and Shoreditch over recent years and Alan Booth, 45, who lives in Columbia Road, said it was time to fight back against homophobic violence.

He said: “It has just got worse and worse around here—it’s left people frightened to go out. The problem is with a minority of Bengali youth: but that minority is significant.

“Just because we’re gay doesn’t mean we aren’t men. It’s time we stood up for ourselves. I’m fed up with people excusing this kind of violence and the gay community are as guilty as anyone else in that.

“It’s time we got some intelligent, sensible people together to discuss what we can do to make it safer for the gay community and for everyone in Shoreditch.”

The three men arrested in connection with the attack have since been released on police bail.

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