Gay couple holding hands beaten in London hate crime

Police looking for four men who launched 'unprovoked attack' on New Year's Day 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 08 January 2019 11:35 GMT
Three of four suspects sought following homophobic assault in London on 1 January
Three of four suspects sought following homophobic assault in London on 1 January (Metropolitan Police)

Police are searching for a group of men who beat a gay couple after seeing them holding hands in London.

Police said the men had been holding hands on the Southbank - a popular tourism and arts hub on the River Thames.

They were walking near the National Theatre on New Year's Day when they were attacked by four men in an "unprovoked assault", which is being treated as a hate crime.

"The victims, aged 28 and 31, who were holding hands, suffered facial injuries and bruising in the assault," a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said.

"They did not require hospital treatment. The suspects are all described as white, aged in their mid-20s and wearing hooded tops. They left in the direction of the OXO Tower."

"Officers have issued images of three of the four suspects in a bid to identify them. The assault is being treated as a hate crime."

There have been no arrests and enquiries continue.

It came after the number of recorded hate crimes hit a record high in England and Wales.

Religiously motivated attacks have rocketed by 40 per cent in a year, with more than half directed at Muslims.

Police recorded a total of 94,098 hate crime offences – more than double the total five years ago – and all categories saw a rise.

Figures showed that 12 per cent of incidents were motivated by sexual orientation, up 27 per cent.

“This increase is thought to be largely driven by improvements in police recording, although there has been spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017,” the Home Office document said.

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Anyone with information is asked to contact police via 101, quoting reference 6108/1Jan, tweet @MetCC or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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