It seemed to be homophobia – Arriva
Tuesday, February 7, 2012, by Sarah Carabott
Two video grabs from YouTube showing the bus driver (left) and one of the girls falling to the ground.
An off-duty bus driver lost his job after he allegedly assaulted two young women in what Arriva said “seems to have been a case of homophobia”.
Part of the incident was caught on camera and uploaded to YouTube by a passenger.
The incident occurred on Friday afternoon on the Naxxar route bus and Marco Borg, 43, was charged in court the following day. But the whole story only came to light yesterday when amateur footage was posted on the video-sharing website by a witness.
Mr Borg, from Birkirkara, was accused of causing slight injuries to the two women, disrupting public order and relapsing, among others. He was granted bail against a personal guarantee of €1,000 and on condition that he does not approach the women, aged 17 and 21.
People who said they were present during the incident posted comments below the video saying the man assumed the women were lesbians and asked them to refrain from kissing.
According to sources, the man had asked the women not to sit together and “not to do these things in front of people”.
In the video, the bus driver, who was in uniform and returning home after a day’s work, is heard asking them to behave properly. One of the women answers that she lives in a democratic country.
Zero tolerance to violence – Arriva
Witnesses who spoke to The Times said the three got into an argument as the bus was passing through Msida and the dispute escalated near Sarria in Floriana. They seem to have alighted before allegedly coming to blows.
The video shows one of the women falling to the ground and the man is holding his face and being held back by the driver of the bus.
An Arriva spokesman said the off-duty bus driver was at the time using the bus as a passenger and his action was taken on his own initiative. He said the incident appeared to have been a case of homophobia. The man, he added, was longer employed with Arriva.
“Arriva has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence of any sort and would like to make it very clear that it condemns categorically and without reserve not only this incident but indeed any bullish, violent and other such reproachable and anti-social behaviour,” it said.
“Moreover, the bus operator wants to make it absolutely clear that it has a very clear and open diversity policy which all employees are bound to respect.”
Meanwhile, LGBT Labour echoed the suspicion that this was an attack on a homosexual couple, following a similar incident in Ħamrun last month, and said legislation was urgently needed to deter such hate crime.
The Sunday Times had reported an attack in which a girl and her girlfriend were beaten specifically because of their sexual orientation.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]