Spate of anti-gay attacks alarms Hollywood

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They call it Boystown, a tight collection of bars, restaurants and nightclubs around Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood that have been a mecca for gay young Californian men for decades. These days, though, the open atmosphere has given way to deep foreboding after a spate of homophobic assaults that have landed two men in hospital, one of them in a coma.

They call it Boystown, a tight collection of bars, restaurants and nightclubs around Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood that have been a mecca for gay young Californian men for decades. These days, though, the open atmosphere has given way to deep foreboding after a spate of homophobic assaults that have landed two men in hospital, one of them in a coma.

In the first incidents three weeks ago, two different gay couples came under attack from a pair of young men driving the streets. Treve Broudy, a 33-year-old actor, was hugging a friend goodbye after a late dinner when assailants drove up, jumped out of their car, kicked and punched him and hit him across the head with a baseball bat. He has been in a coma ever since.

The most recent attack was on Sunday night, just a few hundred yards away. Again, the attackers jumped out of their car, shouting what police later described as "anti-gay epithets", and set about attacking their victim, a 55-year-old man.

Local authorities have responded swiftly, offering a $85,000 (£55,000) reward for information leading to the capture of the assailants. Late-night police patrols have also more than doubled between Santa Monica Boulevard and the Sunset Strip. More than a quarter of West Hollywood's 36,000 residents are believed to be homosexual.

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