Carl Austin-Behan, Manchester's Lord Mayor, has claimed that he was victim of homophobic abuse during a Justin Bieber concert.
The UK’s first openly gay Lord Mayor has said he was called a “dirty faggot and a dirty gay” by two women aged 16-21 as he was going into the concert on Sunday (October 23).
According to Mr Austin-Behan, the incident occurred as he was was walking to the Manchester Arena. He saw two young women arguing with a ticket tout and overheard one of them say, “I’m not paying that to see a dirty gay" - at which point he intervened.
He asked the girls, "Do you think that’s appropriate, in this day and age?"
"That’s when the barrage of comments came back [saying] ‘Am I gay? Am I gay? Am I a dirty faggot?’ and all that sort of stuff that started coming out," he told the Guardian.
"I said I was, I told them I had a husband and that I was also Lord Mayor of Manchester.”
He went on to tell the paper, "I was annoyed. I wasn’t shaken up, I was annoyed. Because it was a Justin Bieber concert there was a lot of young people there, and it was a mix of people. I was more annoyed that people could go to a gig like that and feel they could get away with saying things like that."
Reflecting on why he intervened when he heard homophobic language, he said, "I’m in a privileged position at the moment as the Lord Mayor and one of the things I’ve stood my ground on is that we need to make sure we report hate crime and get that message across. The fact of highlighting that it’s still out there – however small it is, you still have to report it – because there are still people out there who feel it’s all right to be abusive."
“I’m quite a strong person, I can take that. But if people are still saying those things about someone’s sexuality, I find that really offensive and hurtful. It’s important that we stand our ground and that we demand the respect we should get. It may seem trivial to some people, a bit of name-calling, but it’s highly offensive.”
The Lord Mayor then took pictures of the offenders and tweeted the Greater Manchester's Police and Crime Commissioner who have said they are looking into it.
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester police said:
“Shortly after 7.30am on Monday 24 October 2016 police received a report of a hate crime that occurred on Hunt Street in Manchester city centre at around 6.50pm on Sunday 23 October. Inquiries are ongoing.”
Christian couple who refused to bake pro same-sex marriage cake lose court appeal
Meet the chef who’s teaching the world to cook at home… in teeny tiny boxers: WATCH