An LGBT university association Zoom meeting held at Durham University was “hijacked” by more than 15 people shouting “homophobic slurs”.
According to LGBT groups at the university, the event was disrupted with loud music, shouted abuse and “sexually explicit videos”.
Students reported feeling “threatened” and unsafe after the event, held on 5 October, and the event organiser warned of a “toxic culture” at the university.
Durham said that such behaviour “will not be tolerated”, and have since confirmed that they had received reports of ‘Zoom bombing’ at student-run events.
The St Mary’s LGBT+ Association, which ran the event, co-authored a statement with the Durham LGBT+ Association and the Durham People of Colour Association, and shared it to their Facebook page.
It read: “On Monday 5th October, the Saint Mary’s College LGBT+ Association hosted a virtual Zoom event to welcome freshers into our vibrant community. The Zoom link was shared on internal Mary’s channels, and was well attended.
“Sadly, the call was hijacked by 15-20 anonymous callers. These individuals took it upon themselves to shout a number of homophobic and racist slurs at the participants of this call and proceeded to share sexually explicit videos on their screens, as well as play extremely loud, disorientating music.
Sadly, the call was hijacked by 15-20 anonymous callers. These individuals took it upon themselves to shout a number of homophobic and racist slurs at the participants of this call and proceeded to share sexually explicit videos on their screens, as well as play extremely loud
–St Mary’s LGBT+ Association
“An investigation has already been launched by the University to find those who are responsible.”
It went on: “The participants of this call were left feeling upset, threatened and above all, unsafe. It goes without saying that this kind of malicious behaviour is completely and totally unacceptable. The SMC LGBT+ Association’s primary objective is to foster an environment that is welcoming, nurturing and most crucially, safe.
“This is vital now more than ever, due to the way in which the COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited the ways in which we can interact with and support one another.
“80 per cent of anti-LGBT hate crimes go unreported, which is why we believe it is so important that we bring this incident to the attention of the entire University community.
“We would also personally ask each and every member of the University community to act as active bystanders by challenging any homophobic, transphobic, racist, and sexist behaviour when they encounter it.
“Durham students have a duty to support the LGBT+ people in their lives. Because of the pandemic, the support networks that many LGBT+ people have established are no longer available to them.”
After the statement was shared, a number of colleges’ LGBT+ Associations released statements of support.
Sam Dale, the university’s director of student support and wellbeing, said: “Such behaviour is not acceptable at Durham University and will not be tolerated. Incidents will be reported to the police.
“Every member of the university is expected to treat others with respect and tolerance so that every member of our community can live, study and work in a safe and inclusive environment.”