Two men were beaten in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, this weekend in what police are treating as a homophobic attack. The couple, aged 22 and 38, were set upon by three men in the city centre at about 2am BST on Saturday morning.

The two victims suffered with cuts and bruises to their faces. One of them, who did not want to be identified, described the effect of the attack to BBC News as “absolutely soul destroying”. He added that he was “terrified of going to bed . . . terrified of walking down the street”. He also said that his partner was equally disturbed, and that he would be walking him to work in the forseeable future.

Dave McCartney of the gay support group Rainbow Project described the effect of such an attack as “more sinister and more hateful” than a typical, unprovoked violent assault.

He added, “You’re left feeling you’re not a part of this community, you’re singled out, set apart and picked upon.”

Mark Durkan, former leader of the SDLP and MP for Foyle said of the attack, “Regardless of whether it expresses itself in the sort of wanton attack on this gay couple or in the subtle prejudice we see all too often, homophobia is inexcusable.

“As a community we need to show our solidarity with those who suffer this awful prejudice. And we need to show those who attack them that it is they who are in the tiny minority in this society.”