Activists at a recent LGBT+ rights protest in Liverpool. (Paul L McGowan)
A gay teenager who is just 14-years-old was punched and “stamped on the head” by a gang in St Helens, England, stoking further fear over an uptick of anti-LGBT+ violence in the area.
Merseyside Police, the county’s force, confirmed to the Liverpool ECHO that a homophobic attack took place in the village of Haydock, within the St Helens metropolitan area, on Monday (30 August) – the same day a gay man was assaulted in nearby Liverpool.
The victim and a female friend were walking along Clipsey Lane at around 7:40pm when a gang of youths targeted them, police said.
Lobbing homophobic slurs at the boy, the youths then punched and “stamped” him on the face, leaving him with a split slip. They also threw plant pots at him, the victim’s mother, wrote on a Haydock community Facebook group.
Police added that the victim phoned his sister following the attack, who was later assaulted by the same group when she came to her sibling’s aid.
“So my son and my daughter were attacked by a group of young lads,” the mother said, adding that the “unprovoked attack” unfolded “presumably because he’s gay”.
“They followed him shouting gay slurs,” she alleged, “when he rang to say he’d been jumped my daughter ran to meet him and when she got there the group proceeded to attack her and her boyfriend”.
“My son has a split lip and they stamped on his head as he was on the ground, my daughter was kicked in her stomach in which the force drove her out onto the road.”
Police condemn ‘atrocious’ hate crime against gay teen
A Merseyside Police spokesperson told the outlet: “Detectives are appealing for information following reports of a homophobic assault in Haydock yesterday, Monday 30 August.
“At around 7.40pm, a 14-year-old boy was walking with a female friend on Clipsey Lane, near to Tesco Express, when the female was subject of a verbal altercation from youths, who then subjected the boy to homophobic abuse, before he was punched to the face, causing swelling.
“The same group were allegedly responsible for assaulting two females who attended a short time later, also causing bruising. Inquiries are ongoing to identify those responsible.”
“This was an atrocious incident, which was incredibly disturbing for those targeted and anyone who observed it,” detective inspector Yoseph Al-Ramadhan said in a statement.
“We’re treating this as an aggravated assault because of the allegedly utilised profanity. We, at Merseyside Police, are committed to combating hate crime in all of its forms.”
The incident comes as Merseyside officials have increasingly grappled with a surge in anti-LGBT+ violence in Liverpool in particular.
Queer people have been battered, stamped on and spat on as a spectre of violence raises fear in the county’s LGBT+ community – police, meanwhile, have stressed that the attacks are not thought to be linked.
“We have a message for anyone who thinks intimidating another person or causing them physical harm based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is acceptable: it is not,” Detective Chief Inspector Alison Woods said in July.
“For the vast majority of people across Merseyside, it is baffling that anyone could behave in such a way. We share their sadness and frustration.
“Everyone should be free to go out and enjoy themselves safely in Liverpool City Centre and beyond, and we will do all we can to keep our streets free from violence and abuse.”