A man, who was punched in the face and suffered a torrent of homophobic abuse while on a night out with friends in Burnley, has spoken today about his horrific ordeal.
The 22-year-old was targeted in the unprovoked attack by a group of three men and a woman while on his way to Mode nightclub in the town centre in the early hours of Sunday morning.
As he walked along Hammerton Street with his three friends two men walked past them and shouted homophobic slurs.
The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "One of my friends turned round and asked them what they had said.
"A moment later a couple, a man and woman, walked past us and appeared to be arguing.
"Then the man came towards me and made some insulting comment before he punched me in the face."
Stumbling back from the impact of the blow the victim's friends came to his aid after the attacker returned towards him waving his arms around. They then pulled the victim into the safety of the nightspot.
The victim added: "It all seemed to happen very quickly before we realised what had actually taken place.
"It was upsetting for me and my friends and I reported the incident to the police the following morning."
After the victim posted on social media about the incident he was inundated with dozens of messages of support, sympathy and love from the community who also roundly condemned the attack.
Police are now appealing for information about the attack, which left the victim with a black eye and painful bruising and swelling to the side of his face.
It took place at around 4am in the Hammerton Street area just past the now closed Lava Ignite nightclub.
The two men shouting the abuse and the man who punched the victim are said to be of Asian heritage and in their 20s. The woman with them had blonde hair and is also believed to be in her 20s.
An active worker on the LGBT scene in the Burnley area, the victim said the attack had left him so shaken it had put him off going out.
He said: "It still feels quite raw what happened but it has made me realise that we need to appeal for tolerance and understanding of everyone to allow them to be who they want to be.
"No-one should be hit or verbally abused for how they look, dress or for how other people perceive them."