Young men ‘whipped with belts’ in horrific suspected homophobic attack

Police officers stand behind a police line

Police are investigating after three people were reportedly whipped with belts by a group of men in a suspected homophobic attack.

The victims, three young men in their 20s, were walking down a main street in Oxford at 3.43am on Sunday (19 September) after enjoying a night out together.

They say they suffered homophobic abuse from the group of men, which rapidly escalated into horrific whipping with their belts.

One of the victims required hospital treatment after receiving a laceration to his forehead, and has now been discharged. The two other victims suffered injuries to their head, stomach and arms but did not need any hospital treatment.

An 18-year-old man from Kidlington has been arrested on suspicion of assault and affray and released on bail.

Thames Valley Police are now reaching out to the public for any information or footage of the incident.

Investigating officer Police constable Eleanor Middlemass said: “We are appealing to anyone who may have seen the men on George Street on Sunday morning, or anyone with footage, whether that be from CCTV, dashcam or doorbell camera to contact the force.

“The easiest way is via our website or by calling 101.”

UK sees surge of homophobic attacks

The attack marks the latest incident of anti-LGBT+ violence in UK cities, which have seen scores of suspected homophobic hate crimes in recent months.

This summer in Birmingham a gay couple were left covered in blood after being beaten with glass bottles, while another gay couple were attacked with knives.

Many more attacks have occurred in Liverpool, where queer victims have been beaten in broad daylight, bloodied and traumatised, and children have been spat on.

Although police do not believe the attacks are linked, the spate of violence has left the LGBT+ community in serious fear for their safety, prompting hundreds to march through Liverpool in protest.

The surge of violence was acknowledged by Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, and Liverpool Regional mayor Steve Rotheram, who issued a joint statement ahead of the protest.

“The recent spate of homophobic attacks in Liverpool city centre fly in the face of those values and have understandably sent shockwaves throughout the region,” they said.

Together they condemned the surge of bigotry, saying diversity was one of the region’s “great strengths”.