Attack on same-sex couple in downtown Calgary prompts hate crime investigation

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WATCH: Police are investigating an alleged attack on a same-sex couple. As Tracy Nagai reports, officers believe they know who they’re looking for – Aug 29, 2018

A recent assault on a lesbian couple in downtown Calgary’s Beltline neighbourhood is being investigated by the Calgary Police Service’s hate crime co-ordinator, the police department has confirmed to Global News.

Danielle Lanctot and her girlfriend were enjoying a night out in Calgary last weekend, walking between bars and pubs, when she says they were verbally and physically attacked because of their sexuality.

The couple was holding hands and waiting at a crosswalk in downtown Calgary’s Beltline neighbourhood when the ordeal started.

“This group of people just came around the corner and… they just made fun of us for holding hands,” Lanctot said. According to her, there were about six or seven in the opposing group.

“They were just like, ‘Hey do you need a condom?’ and just started laughing.”

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Lanctot said she fired back with a comment about one of the men in the group’s “man bun” hairstyle, and then the altercation turned physical.

READ MORE: Pride Without Prejudice: A conversation with Calgary’s LGBTQ community

“The girl was getting in my face… I think she was trying to get me to hit her or something so that they could just start attacking us,” she said.

Lanctot said she kept telling the group to walk away, and once they did, she took out her phone and took photos of the people who had confronted them, which she said angered the man with the “man bun.”

“So he just came up and punched me in the face, down to the ground, and he took my phone and he smashed it,” Lanctot said, recalling laying on the sidewalk while still pleading for the man and his group to leave the couple alone.

“At the same time, their other friends were fighting my girlfriend,” she said. “I didn’t even see anything that happened because I was laying on the ground and one of their friends ended up choking her.”

Lanctot said she believes someone saw that part of the fight and intervened to stop it before leaving the scene.

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She said she called police once the group eventually left, still hurling crude comments back at them as they walked away.

“They turned around and saw me on my phone and they just were still yelling at me, like, ‘Oh you’re calling the police you little b***h?’ and then walked away,” she said.

Officers arrived and took the couple to their next destination where they continued their night.

Lanctot said adrenaline allowed them to continue enjoying the evening with friends despite being in pain from the assault.

READ MORE: Calgary police apologize to LGBTQ community for ‘things we did in the past’

The next day, Lanctot posted the photos along with her account of the assault on social media, hoping to find out who their attackers were. A hate crime investigator from the Calgary Police Service also contacted her regarding the incident.

Lanctot said when the incident first happened, the thought of it being a hate crime didn’t cross her mind. She added she’s been attacked and assaulted before because of her sexuality.

She said she doesn’t want to reduce the situation down to being an example of society still being intolerant of people in the LGBTQ community.

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“Like, I get it’s Pride week and everything, but I think that we’re all just human,” she said. “I don’t look at things just because I’m a girl or I’m gay or whatever. I’m just like.. people should not treat people like that regardless.”

CPS confirmed to Global News on Tuesday it is investigating the incident and the hate crime coordinator is also reviewing the case.

Lanctot said as of Wednesday, she was unsure about whether she would proceed with charges.

— With files from Tracy Nagai, Global News

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