Police are searching for two thugs who attacked an unnamed victim in a violent homophobic attack while he was on his way home from a gay bar.
The victim, who is described as a man in his 40s, was attacked on 9 December as he was returning home from a night out at the Flying Handbag, a gay venue in Blackpool.
The man was walking along Palatine Road when he was approached by two men sometime between 2 and 2.30am. The men asked if he had visited the Flying Handbag and if he was gay before violently hitting him in the side of the head, causing him to lose consciousness.
Lancashire Police are now searching for the perpetrators of the homophobic attack, who are described as white men, aged between 20 and 40-years-old and between 5ft 7ins and 5ft 9ins tall.
Detective constable Paul Edmondson of Blackpool CID said the police are keen to talk to anyone who had witnessed the attack or who could have CCTV in the nearby area which could have captured vital evidence.
“This is a serious attack that caused the victim to lose consciousness,” Edmondson added.
Homophobic attack comes amid a wave of violence against the LGBT+ community in the UK
Newly-released data showed there were at least 14,670 homophobic hate crimes recorded in the UK between January and August this year. During the same period last year, there were 11,841, and the first six months of 2019 saw 10,817 homophobic hate crimes reported.
Data obtained by Vice World News also painted a bleak picture of the rise of violence against the LGBT+ community.
According to the outlet, police recorded 19,679 hate crimes based on sexual orientation between 2020 and 2021. The same data set showed there were 6,363 reports in 2014-15, the year same-sex weddings became legal in the UK.
For reports of hate crimes against trans people in the UK, there were 598 in 2014-15 and 2,588 in 2020-21.
Leni Morris, chief executive of Galop, the UK’s LGBT+ anti-abuse charity, told Vice that it wasn’t surprising to her that hate crimes against the LGBT+ community surged amid the pandemic.
“Right from the beginning of the pandemic, we saw the impact that lockdown was having on the escalation in violence and abuse against our community,” she explained.
She continued: “We saw LGBT+ people targeted as a direct result of the pandemic – either because the pandemic was seen as a punishment for our existence, or because of our community’s association with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and a notion that LGBT+ people were somehow at the root of this pandemic.”
“What we do know for sure, from the UK government’s own figures, is that 90 per cent of hate crimes against LGBT+ people go unreported, so these figures only represent a tiny part of the overall amount of abuse and violence faced by the LGBT+ community in the UK today.”
Sasha Misra, associate director of communications and campaigns at Stonewall, said the sharp rise should be a “wake up call that we need to do more to tackle rising hate” against LGBT+ people in the UK.
“It’s worrying to see such a stark increase in reports of hate crimes, especially during a pandemic which caused so many of us to live through multiple lockdowns,” Misra said. “This can’t continue.”
Misra added: “As a society, we all need to do more to combat anti-LGBTQ+ violence and call out abuse, harassment and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment wherever we see it.”
Anyone with information about the homophobic attack in Blackpool can contact 101 or email Lancashire Police quoting log number 0995 of December 9.
Information can also be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.