Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Boys bailed over anti-gay attack

James Parkes
Mr Parkes was leaving Superstar Boudoir when he was attacked

Six boys arrested after a homophobic attack on an off-duty trainee police officer outside a gay bar in Merseyside have been bailed.

James Parkes, 22, was set upon by a group of up to 20 people on Stanley Street on Sunday night.

Four boys aged 15, one 17 and one 14, were held on suspicion of assault.

Mr Parkes is in hospital with multiple skull fractures and other injuries. He was attacked as he left Superstar Boudoir in Liverpool city centre.

Detectives have been reviewing CCTV footage of the area, which has been sealed-off.

Det Ch Insp Tim Keelan, who has appealed for witnesses to come forward, said: "We are treating the assault as a homophobic hate crime and this incident shows there are still some people who have not learnt that crimes of this type are completely unacceptable.

"People who commit hate crimes can expect the full attention of the police and we will not rest until the offenders are brought to justice."

Abuse 'escalates'

Mr Parkes, who is openly gay, was with his partner and another man and a woman when he was attacked. One of his companions was punched in the face.

The trainee was a police community support officer until earlier this year and was in the middle of training to become a full police officer by early 2010.

Stanley Street
Stanley Street is popular with Liverpool's gay community

High-visibility police patrols have been stepped up in the area where he was attacked.

Derek Munn, of gay rights charity Stonewall, said that despite some good work by police, attacks on gay and lesbian people were on the increase in Britain's towns and cities.

"It's true that there has been a significant increase in the way police and the criminal justice system take homophobic hate crime seriously - and that's good," said Mr Munn.

"But we know from our own research funded by the Home Office that one in five lesbian and gay people experienced a hate incident in the last three years, but three in four of them didn't bother to report."

Mr Munn said problems often began with abuse in the street, which often went unreported, before escalating into violent attacks.

"If it (abuse) is not dealt with you can end up with the situation where young men in certain towns and cities in Britain clearly think it's acceptable to beat people up critically just because they think they're gay."

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