A MAN whose “absolutely fabulous” costume caught the attention of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Edinburgh Pride festival was subjected to a homophobic tirade on a packed city bus just hours later.
Rhys Smith was travelling into the city centre on Saturday evening with a friend when another passenger started shouting abuse and then making disparaging remarks about his sexuality.
The 23-year-old from Livingston had spent all day at the Pride festival – a celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities – and said he had done “absolutely nothing to deserve” the abuse.
The retired passenger can be seen in footage of the incident which Rhys recorded on his mobile phone making remarks about his sexuality and repeatedly calling him an “a******”. Police in Edinburgh are treating the incident as a hate crime.
Rhys, whose video has been viewed more than 5000 times on Facebook, said: “Things like this just show we still have a long way to go until everyone is seen as equal. We had such a great day, and for someone to come along and ruin it like this for us was unfortunate. My friend and I had planned a busy night clubbing to continue the celebrations, but because of what happened on the bus, we ended up going home really early.”
Rhys and his friend had dressed up as Patsy and Eddie from Absolutely Fabulous for the Pride march – during which they partied and took selfies with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
They later changed into some casual clothes before heading out for the evening.
Rhys said: “We were just sitting on the bus, exchanging photos of us at the Pride march and having a laugh, when out the corner of my eye I spotted a fellow passenger pointing at me and loudly saying, ‘he’s an a******, he’s an a******’.
“I immediately took out my phone and started recording. I was completely in shock.
“I would have understood why I was being targeted a little if I had still been dressed up but I wasn’t. We did nothing to deserve it.”
A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “We are investigating the circumstances of a hate crime, which occurred on a bus in the centre of Edinburgh on Saturday night, July 2.
“Our inquiries into this matter are ongoing as we look to establish the full set of circumstances and anyone with relevant information is asked to contact police on 101.”
A spokesman for Lothian Buses said: “Lothian Buses takes the safety and comfort of our staff and passengers very seriously and would always encourage individuals to report any incidents or concerns to the driver.
“Through our dedicated police liaison officer, Lothian Buses works in partnership with Police Scotland to ensure that our passengers and staff can travel in a safe environment at all times.”