Police are treating an attack on two men in a park in the Berkshire town of Reading as a homophobic incident.

Thames Valley Police say at around 12.40am on Sunday, two men were walking home from a barbecue through Cintra Park when they were approached by a large gang of youths.

Members of the gang shouted at the men before one of the youths hit one of the victims in the face causing a nosebleed and cutting his tongue.

The other man was pushed to the ground and kicked and punched while cash and cards were taken from him.

The gang members were aged between 15 and 20. One was a slim white male, about 5ft with short dark hair.

Another was a slim white boy, aged about 15, and about 5ft with short dark hair, and wearing long trousers.

A third boy was slim, white, about 16 with dark hair, wearing dark tracksuit trousers and a top.

Investigating officer PC Nick Hook, of Thames Valley Police, said: “We are keen to speak to anyone with any information about this distressing incident.

“We are investigating the incident as a homophobic hate crime which has left the victims understandably shaken.

“This incident is being treated extremely seriously. We will not tolerate hate crimes in our community and will be making every effort to track down and bring to justice those responsible.”

In April, Thames Valley Police released figures showing an increase in homophobic crime across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

There were 112 homophobic-related offences recorded from April 2011 to the end of March 2012, compared with 143 in the following 12 months.

Reading Pride said the rise illustrated greater confidence in people reporting anti-gay incidents; historically they have been underreported in the UK compared to other forms of crime.