More than 1,500 people attended a vigil last night in Liverpool for James Parkes, the gay trainee policeman who was attacked by a homophobic gang last weekend.

The vigil was held in the city’s gay quarter on Stanley Street, where the attack took place.

Parkes, 22, was out with his boyfriend and friends when he was set up upon by a group of up to 20 youths, who shouted homophobic abuse as they beat him.

He is still recovering in hospital from the attack, which left him with a fractured skull, eye socket and cheekbone.

Twelve teenage boys have been arrested and bailed.

Parkes’ boyfriend Tom Downey spoke to the crowd and lit the first candle.

According to the Liverpool Echo, he said: “This time last week I never thought I would be standing here saying all this. The reason I am here is to stand up for not only what I believe in but what we all believe in and to push our right to freedom.

“The attack which happened last week was a massive shock to the nation and surely this is the final straw.

“No matter whether we are straight, gay or transgender it should make no difference – it’s what’s inside that counts.”

He added that Parkes was looking forward to getting back to his job but said it would take some time before they would feel confident to go out with friends again.