Two men were attacked with bottles and subjected to homophobic abuse during a “appalling hate crime” in the gay village of Birmingham, police said.
Rob and Patrick, in their 30s, were outside the Missing bar on Saturday night when four men in a black SUV yelled homophobic slurs at them before getting out of the car and assaulting them.
Both men were left covered in blood after sustaining cuts to the head and arms, and Patrick lost consciousness.
West Midlands Police Inspector Steve Lloyd said the force was working with businesses in the area to “reassure them that we take this appalling hate crime very seriously”.
“This was an absolutely appalling attack and robbery against people just trying to have a night out in the city center,” he said. “They suffered homophobic abuse before they were physically injured, and we are working incredibly hard to find those responsible. “
During the attack, which happened at around 4 a.m., Patrick had his phone snatched by one of the men as he attempted to film the abuse, and a friend of theirs was dragged by the car as she tried to retrieve it.
The woman, in her twenties, suffered a foot injury.
Rob then ran after the car to challenge the men before they stopped at a red light, got out of the car and started attacking it with bottles.
Patrick said he ran to help but was then knocked out by one of the men.
Speaking to the BBC, Rob said: “It’s just shocking that this is happening in 2021 in the UK. Especially in the gay village, it should be a safe place to be whoever you want and not have to put up with people shouting homophobic remarks at you. “
Detectives said they were conducting urgent investigations to identify the attackers and their vehicle, and that CCTV was being recovered. The men in the car were described as Middle Eastern or Asian in appearance, police said.
Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands and the first directly elected openly gay subway mayor, said: “There is no room in our house for this disgusting and homophobic behavior. I am sure the police will do everything possible to catch the culprits and punish them with the force of the law.
Homophobic hate crime cases nearly tripled, from 6,655 in 2014-2015 to 18,465 in 2019-2020, according to data obtained by the BBC.