Sydney couple sentenced for ‘cowardly’ homophobic attack

Sydney couple sentenced for ‘cowardly’ homophobic attack
Image: Homophobic attack on Borna Kazerani. Image: Supplied

by CHLOE SARGEANT

This story was originally published on the Star Observer.

 

A young Sydney couple who have been found guilty of a homophobic attack have now both been sentenced with community corrections orders.

Borna Kazerani was attacked by Cortez Solomon and Paris Te Atahu Makene Stone as he walked with a friend through a carpark after visiting the Parklea Markets.

This story discusses homophobic assault, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

Kazerani, a gay man, filmmaker, and language interpreter for courts, moved to Australia after fleeing Iran. After leaving a country with the death penalty for homosexuality, he believed he was coming to a place of safety for gay people – but says his sense of safety here has been shaken since the attack.

He told the ABC that as a gay man who wears makeup, he believes he was an “easy target” for the attackers:

“I wear eye makeup, so I was probably an easy target for these people.”

Frenzied homophobic attack after accidentally crossing street in front of car

Kazerani crossed a road in the carpark before the couple quickly overtook them in their black SUV.

According to court documents, Solomon gave Kazerani the finger as they overtook him, then after Kazerani shrugged it off, Solomon stopped the car and began the confrontation amid protests from his girlfriend, Stone.

Kazerani apologised for crossing the road in front of them, explaining he didn’t know it was a two-way street. Solomon replied, “So what motherf***er?”.

Then as he began to shove and punch him, Solomon also began calling him a slew of homophobic insults, including ‘homo’ and ‘p**fter’.

In the frenzied attack, Kazerani was punched, kicked, shoved, and his attacker even kicked him in the testicles. He tried to fight back and push Solomon away, while his friend tried to take photos of Solomon and his car.

Court documents say Stone then exited their SUV, and tried to separate the men by pulling on Kazerani’s hair. When he tried to push Stone away from him, this made Solomon begin punching him again.

The couple then returned to their car, but not before one last kick to Kazerani’s ribs.

Kazerani told Star Observer that while he called police, the couple drove back and attempted to start the attack again.

“The man and woman both got out of the car and started attacking me again. The female grabbed my hair from behind and pulled me back while the male punched me.”

“While this was happening, I was on the phone with 000, yelling and screaming that I was on the phone with police. When they heard I was talking to the police, they ran back to their car and drove off.”

The attack left him with severe bruising around his eyes and nose, dizziness, and a swollen jaw.

Police did not come to help came for Kazerani

Kazerani and his friend called 000, but police never came.

He says it was because local police simply didn’t have the staff available when the attack happened, so Kazerani drove himself to Castle Hill police station.

“That was the biggest problem because I contacted the police and they said they were short on staff,” he told the ABC.

Police arrested Solomon two weeks later, and he claimed that Kazerani instigated the attack and he was simply protecting his girlfriend, Stone.

Later, Solomon and Stone were both charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and both pled guilty.

Image: BornaKazerani / Instagram

Apologies for Kazerani’s but denials of homophobia

Cortez Solomon was sentenced to an 18-month Community Corrections Order in November, and Paris Te Atahu Makene Stone received a CCO of 15 months earlier this week.

Outside court after sentencing, Stone apologised to Mr Kazerani for the attack, but denied she was homophobic.

“I’m very open with all that kind of stuff,” she said.

Varinder Pawar, Stone’s legal representation, told the court that Stone had been undergoing treatment for postpartum depression.

But Blacktown Local Court Magistrate Brian van Zuylen described Stone’s participation in the attack as “pretty cowardly” and said postpartum depression was not an excuse.

“I’m not sure it’s the right way to stop [the fight] by pulling out his hair,” said the Magistrate.

Pawar said his client was “extremely sorry”.

“Something like that will never happen again and she extends her apologies to the victim involved,” he said.

Kazerani satisfied with punishments for homophobic attack

Kazerani watched the sentencing hearing on Thursday, and said he did not believe Stone’s claim the assault was unrelated to homophobia.

But he told the ABC he was satisfied with his attackers’ punishments.

“It shows that if everyone stands up for their rights, especially LGBTQ community members, they can get what they’re looking for as justice,” he said.

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