Police have condemned a gang of up to 15 men and women who viciously attacked two gay men in Bradford.
The victims needed hospital treatment for head injuries after being repeatedly struck with make-shift weapons their attackers had pulled from a skip in Heap Lane, Barkerend.
The gang chased and set upon the men, aged 21 and 37, as they walked towards Bradford city centre to catch a train home to Keighley.
They were verbally abused by the group as they emerged from a shop on the corner of Heap Lane, having visited a friend in Undercliffe.
Detective Inspector Ian Bryar, of Bradford South Police, who is leading the investigation into the attack, said: “This was an unprovoked attack on two men walking towards the city centre.
“Because of the language used by the group towards the victims I believe that this attack was based on the men’s sexuality and is therefore being treated as a homophobic hate crime.
“West Yorkshire Police takes this incident very seriously and detectives are investigating this offence now. We will not tolerate people being targeted or singled out due to their sexuality.
“The victims are both very shocked and upset not just by their physical injuries, but emotionally too. To be targeted in this way has left them confused and disappointed.”
Det Insp Bryar urged anyone with any information about the attack to contact police.
He said: “I know that one of the victims visited a shop in Heap Lane immediately before the attack. There were many people in the shop at the time and I am appealing for these people to come forward and speak to detectives if they have any information that could help us with our inquiries.”
Both victims were taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary. Doctors had to use a specialist glue to treat the head wounds of one of them.
Jonathan Cookson, community development worker at Mesmac, Bradford, a hate crime reporting centre and health advice group for gay and bisexual men, said: “Yorkshire Mesmac strongly condemns this sad, vicious attack. We will do everything we can to stop this sort of incident from happening and to support the victims.”
Anyone with any information about the attack, which occurred at about 7.30pm on Thursday, should call Bradford South police via 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.