A man was set on fire outside a church in disturbing homophobic attack
A 20-year-old man had his legs set on fire in Stockton after being questioned about his sexuality.
A British man, 20, was set on fire in a terrifying homophobic attack during the early morning hours on Wednesday.
The man was walking through the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stockton when four men stopped him and began asking him personal questions regarding his sexuality.
He ignored the harassment and continued onto the street when one of the men came up from behind and sprayed an aerosol can at the victims legs which was then set alight.
After the attack, the men fled the scene and left the victim with severe burns on his calves, which required skin grafts.
The attacker who set the man on fire is said to be white, in his early 20s, with short blonde hair and medium build, and at the time of the assault was shirtless and wearing jogging bottoms.
A spokeswoman for the Cleveland Police said officers are treating this as a homophobic hate crime, and anyone with information should call police on 101.
Sarah Lewis, of LGBT support charity Hart Gables, said that hate crimes are often under-reported, but believes physical attacks of this nature are uncommon in the area.
“Hate crime is a problem, and the main problem is that it is under-reported,” she said. “It is not often that we see instances like this physical attack, but we do see a huge amount of verbal abuse on social media, a lot of homophobia but in particular transphobia.”
Last October, architect Mikhail Pischevsky died after an attack in Minsk, Belarus caused him to have a brain haemorrhage.
Then in May, a man sustained fractured bones in his face after he and his boyfriend were beaten by a gang of homophobic assailants in Brighton.