Police in Brighton, a city often referred to as the gay capital of England, have issued a warning after two vicious homophobic attacks left their victims seriously injured.
The attacks, which both occurred around the Preston Park area, are thought to be the work of one gang described as four Afro-Caribbean men in a red saloon.
In the first incident, a 39 and 36 year-old male couple were walking along Hamilton Road, near the park.
A car pulled up and four men got out, shouting homophobic abuse.
They attacked the 39 year-old, stealing his gold necklace, watch and wallet, and leaving him with severe injuries to the face and legs which were later treated at Royal Sussex County Hospital.
His partner escaped by hiding in a park.
The next day however, the gang returned in the same car as he was walking home alone on Preston Park Road, just half a mile from where the original attack occurred.
Again the gang hurled homophobic abuse, before physically attacking their victim and robbing him.
Doctors have reported that swelling from the attack is so severe, they are not yet able to assess the extent of the 26 year-old’s injury.
“This was a really vicious, unprovoked attack on two members of the gay community,” said Detective Sergeant Mick Richards, of Sussex Police, who are leading the investigation.
“It is very unusual and we are asking the gay community to be our eyes and ears.
“If they hear or see this car and they are subjected to any homophobic abuse then they should contact us immediately.”
A statement described one of the attackers as in his 20s, 5ft 10 and around 14 stone with tightly braided hair.
The other three attackers all have short cropped hair.
Police are currently looking at CCTV footage and private surveillance from local business to try and uncover further information on the attackers movements.
They are also keen for the occupants of a 4×4 vehicle, which slowed down as it passed the red saloon car during the first attack, to come forward and contact them.
A recent study by the BBC revealed that as many as 80% of the gay community suffer verbal or physical abuse in their lifetime.
If anyone has any information please call Sussex Police on 0845 6070999 quoting Operation Leighton or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.