The President of Sao Paulo’s Gay Pride Association was hospitalised after he was attacked at their offices yesterday.

Alexandre Peixe dos Santos was gagged, hooded and beaten by an unknown number of attackers.

The association organises one of the largest gay rights parades in the world. Last year three million revellers packed the streets of the Brazilian city in what officials have called the largest party in the world.

Mr Peixe dos Santos was beaten unconscious in the attack and called police when he regained consciousness.

The incident is being investigated by a specialist police unit, the Racial Crimes and Crimes of Intolerance Division.

In September LGBT activists in Brazil spoke about the high levels of homophobia in their society in the wake of the brutal sexual assault and murder of a gay teenager.

Osvan Inacio dos Santos, 19, was attacked in a street near a bar where he had just won the local “Miss Gay” competition. His naked body was found on Sunday morning and forensic examination found his skull had been fractured and indicated sexual assault.

The attack and murder, in the town of Batingas in northeast Brazil, is just one high-profile example of the problems the LGBT community face in the country, which is often viewed as liberal in matters of sexuality.

Tedy Marques, president of the Alagoas Gay Group, told EFE news agency at the time:

“Homophobia is one of the worst problems Brazil faces. It is unacceptable that every other day in our country a homosexual is brutally murdered.”

Activists estimate that more than 2,680 gay people were murdered in Brazil between 1980 and 2006.