POLICE have offered reassurances to Worcester’s gay community and said that hate crime will not be tolerated after a second suspected homophobic attack in Worcester in less than two weeks.

Witnesses are being sought after a man was beaten and verbally abused in the city centre in the early hours of this morning.

Three friends were getting food from Shakeeys takeaway, in Angel Street, at about 2.30am when one of them, a man in his 20s, was confronted by two men who were eating outside.

They questioned him about his clothing and his sexuality before verbally abusing him and throwing chips at him.

The man and his friends walked away and as they walked down Broad Street the two men, who had been joined by others, ran up and attacked him, repeatedly punching him to the head and face.

The victim’s friends and two passers by intervened and the men made off on foot towards Quay Street and were seen running away over Worcester Bridge and down New Road.

The victim was left with cuts and bruises while his two friends also sustained minor injuries in their attempts to stop the assault.

The two men who led the attack were described as both being white and in their 20s. One had blond hair and was wearing a white t-shirt with a glittery appearance, while the other had short, dark hair and was wearing a navy or black t-shirt with red writing on it.

We reported last week how a 19-year-old man was attacked in a similar incident outside Bushwackers nightclub at about 12.30am on Friday, May 18. Police believe that attack was also motivated by homophobia, but have stressed that incidents of this sort are rare.

Insp John McKay said: "This was a violent and unprovoked attack and the victim was lucky to escape with minor injuries. However he has been left badly shaken by this assault, not least because he has told us it was because of his sexuality; this is supported by his friends as well as independent witnesses to the abuse he suffered.

West Mercia Police does not tolerate hate crimes and we appeal for any members of the public who may have information about who the offenders were to contact us immediately. This sort of crime is rare in Worcester, but we have now had two similar assaults in the city within days of each other.

"At this stage we have nothing to connect the two incidents and we believe they are alcohol-related, but I would like to reassure members of our local gay communities that we are thoroughly investigating both and urge anyone who has any information to contact the police."

Anyone with information should call 101 quoting 53S 29/05/12 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.