A gay couple were subjected to a savage attack outside their own home after being targeted for wearing brightly coloured shoes.
Julian Smith, 49, and his partner Andrew Leonard, 53, were walking through the car park of their apartment building in Waterloo, London, after a night out when they were set upon by a group of at least four men aged in their mid-20s.
After being taunted over their sexuality and Mr Leonard's brightly coloured shoes, the couple were brutally beaten in an attack that left Mr Leonard with a suspected broken cheek bone and nose and four missing teeth.
Mr Smith, a barrister and Unitarian minister, was also knocked to the ground during the vicious assault, which took place just after 12.30am on Sunday (July 30) and which police are treating as a hate crime.
“As we approached the block, we could hear these barking noises, really aggressive, so we were reticent as we got in,” Mr Smith told the Evening Standard
“When we walked through I think we spooked them a little bit because they were drinking.
“Then they started calling us poofs and saying, ‘Is this your boyfriend?’ and ‘F*****g hell, what are you wearing?’
“I haven’t heard poof for a while, it was quite old fashioned.”
Mr Smith said that he turned around and tried to reason with the group as the couple approached the gate to their block.
He said: “I told them, we’re a couple of middle aged gay guys, it’s not a very brave thing to try and intimidate us.
“They weren’t kids, they were in their mid-twenties. I think that encouraged us to try and reason with them a bit more. Then one of them took my glasses and smacked me in the face.”
Mr Smith continued: “They kicked Andrew like a kick-boxer straight in the face. He was on the floor and out of it.
“I’m trying to protect Andrew and they are circling around like hyenas. They were vicious little s****. We could have had a fatality quite easily.”
The attack comes just weeks after a new report found that almost half of LGBT+ Londoners
had been the victim of a hate crime in the last year.
Mr Smith added that he may have to undergo cosmetic surgery after suffering injuries to his lip.
A Met spokesman said: “The incident is being treated as a suspected hate crime. There have been no arrests and enquiries continue.”
Witnesses and anyone with information are being asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or to tweet @MetCC