A gay couple have said they are afraid to leave their home after being attacked in the street and threatened with a plank of wood for holding hands.
Simon Jenkins and partner Ben Drawer said the assault began after they heard a mother with two young children mutter a homophobic slur as she walked past the couple in Birmingham last month.
When Mr Jenkins, 33, challenged the woman over what she had said she allegedly lashed out, hurling abuse and hitting the pair with her shoe.
Mr Jenkins and Mr Drawer, who have been together for three years, told West Midlands Police the woman said they were “disgusting” and would “burn in hell”.
She then allegedly knocked a smartphone out of the couple’s hands to stop them filming before picking up a plank of wood, forcing the pair to flee the scene.
The incident has left the two men scared to walk around their own city together. “Every time I leave home with my partner, I feel like I’m going into battle,” Mr Jenkins told the Birmingham Mail.
“It has put us off going out holding hands. Do we really have to live in a world where it’s OK for people to make homophobic slurs?”
Mr Jenkins, a university lecturer, said the woman, who he described as being in her early thirties and black, even tried to get her older daughter, who looked to be about 10 years old, to join her in abusing him and Mr Drawer.
“She turned around and screamed at us – she told us we were disgusting and we were going to burn in hell.
“She called us dirty b*****ds, shouted sexually explicit things at us and made more homophobic remarks.
“She shouted that ‘some people think this is OK – but I don’t’ and threatened to ‘knock us across the street’.”
A spokesperson for West Midlands Police confirmed the force was treating the attack as a hate crime and was pursuing several lines of inquiry.
“Police are investigating after two men were threatened by a woman as they were walking on a canal bridge on Bristol Road in Selly Oak on May 31, at around 7.40pm,” she told the newspaper.
“The woman made homophobic remarks to the men before threatening them with a plank of wood and chasing them.
“When the woman saw that one of the men was recording her on his phone, she slapped the phone out of his hand.”
The alleged homophobic crime comes just one week after a lesbian couple were violently beaten on a London bus after they refused demands from a group of young men to kiss.
One needed surgery to reset bones in her nose and her girlfriend suffered a fractured jaw in the unprovoked assault.
Five teenagers aged between 15 and 18 have been arrested and charged with robbery and aggravated grievous bodily harm in connection with the attack.