Couple subjected to transphobic and homophobic abuse in Acton pub

Image above: The Red Lion and Pineapple in Acton

“Hating on LGBT+ people has become normalised again”

A transgender man and his wife said they were left feeling feeling unsafe in a pub in Acton, after being subjected to transphobic and homophobic abuse.

Dr Karl Rutlidge, a theology PhD student and Methodist minister, said he was called a ‘poof’ and he and his wife a ‘pair of freaks’ while out for lunch in The Red Lion and Pineapple, at 281 High St.

In the emotional post, Dr Rutlidge shared the impact the incident had had on him and his partner while they were out enjoying themselves on the Bank Holiday. Dr Rutlidge said:

“Today, my wife and I ducked into Wetherspoons in Acton to get out of the rain and grab some lunch. One of the other customers called us “a pair of freaks”, another thought we were “lesbians”, while another man called me a “poof”. Least safe in a pub I have felt for some time.”

Local people responded with shock to the incident, referencing Acton’s diversity. Dr Rutlidge replied:

“Hating on LGBT+ people has become normalised again. That’s led people like the blokes in the pub who harassed us to feel they can get away with behaving like that. I don’t doubt they are not representative of Acton more generally.”

Above: Dr Karl Rutlidge’s post on Twitter

Hate crime on the rise 

It is unclear whether the incident was reported to the police, as in a subsequent Tweet Dr Rutlidge said he and his wife felt unsafe so “just wanted to get out of there to be honest”.

Hate crimes related to gender identity and sexual orientation have spiked over recent years. The most recent figures on hate crime from a 2021/22, provided by the Home Office, showed hate crimes targeting transgender people saw the largest proportional rise from the year previously – with 4,355 anti-trans incidents in 2021/22 – up by 56% from 2020/21.

Similarly, sexual-orientation related hate crimes rose by 41%.

Following his post on Twitter, while most offered their sympathy and shock at the incident, dozens sought to berate and belittle his experience, in a continuation of the transphobic and homophobic abuse the couple experienced in person.

While Home Office representatives claim the spike is at least partly due to growing awareness and confidence in reporting incidents to the police, anti-abuse LGBT+ charities such as Galop disagree.

Galop say incidences of hate crime are rising exponentially, as a direct result of political and social media debates about LGBT+ people and the resulting media coverage.

The Chiswick Calendar have approached the Metropolitan Police and Dr Rutlidge for comment.

“Insulting or aggressive behaviour is unacceptable”, says Wetherspoons

A spokesperson for Wetherspoons said:

“It is important that our pubs are safe and welcoming for everyone. Insulting or aggressive behaviour is unacceptable.

“The incident in question was not brought to the attention of the pub team, or seen by them, at the time, but they are now aware of it.

“We do not have the details of the customers concerned but if they wish to contact us, then we will, of course, carry out a full investigation.”