The Zoom meeting was hijacked by homophobes who shouted abuse and showed “sexually explicit videos.”

Queer students at Durham University have said they feel “unsafe” after an introductory Zoom meeting was hijacked by homophobes.

The Zoom meeting was arranged by the university’s LGBT Association for new students facing the coronavirus restrictions.

However, during the meeting, 15 to 20 anonymous people hijacked it and started shouting racist and homophobic slurs at people present, played loud disorientating music and showed sexually explicit videos.

Durham University said the incident was “unacceptable” and promised to launch an investigation to find out who was responsible.

In a joint statement, the Durham LGBT+ Association, the Durham People of Colour Association and St Mary’s College LGBT+ Association said: “The Zoom link was shared on internal Mary’s channels, and was well attended. Sadly, the call was hijacked by 15-20 anonymous callers.”

It added: “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.

“An investigation has already been launched by the university to find those who are responsible. The participants of this call were left feeling upset, threatened and above all, unsafe.”

The statement condemned the “malicious behaviour” as “completely and totally unacceptable” and added: “To hijack an event like this in such an aggressive and targeted way is nothing less than a hate crime.”

The groups highlighted the difficulties with LGBTQ+ groups being able to meet during normal times and said that the pandemic had “severely limited the ways in which we can interact with and support one another” meaning that they “now have no alternative but these online events.”

They noted that the fact the attack came from multiple people acted as “a reminder of how routinely unsafe and unwelcome our community is made to feel.”

Finishing their statement, they wrote: “This crime follows the leaking of numerous screenshots of racist, homophobic and sexist comments made by Durham students and applicants.

“This is further evidence of Durham’s systemic toxic culture, which can only be dismantled is we all challenge hostile behaviour towards minority groups.”

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