‘Abhorrent’ Leith Street assault officially being treated as a hate crime
An ‘abhorrent’ attack on two gay men in Edinburgh last week is officially being investigated as a hate crime, Police Scotland has confirmed.
A gay couple in their 30s were assaulted and robbed in front of horrified onlookers by a group of thugs in Leith Street, near to the John Lewis department store, at around 9.20pm on Friday.
One eye-witness who contacted police told the Evening News that they saw a group of four men in their early 20s punching, kicking and spitting on of the victims before stealing a bag and running off in the direction of the Omni Centre.
It is understood that one of the couple was left hospitalised by the attack.
Updating the public on Police Scotland’s investigation, Detective Inspector Mark McGraw confirmed that officers now considered the incident as a hate crime.
"We understand that hate crimes can have a huge impact on those targeted and an attack on people because of their sexual orientation, gender, race or beliefs, is not only abhorrent but will not be tolerated,” he said.
“Anyone who was in the Leith Street area of Edinburgh at around 9:20pm on Friday 30 July and may have information that could assist with our enquiry is urged to contact Police Scotland, quoting incident 3663 of July 30."
Speaking to the Evening News on Sunday, one eye-witness told of how they were left “trembling” in the aftermath of the attack.
“The victim came straight over, thanked me and I asked if he was okay. There was blood on the ground,” they added.
“He burst into tears and I held him as he sobbed so hard into my chest.
“He told me he did not know why they did it to him.”
“It was unprovoked entirely - the gay men did not fight back, they only tried to defend themselves.
“The boys were laughing, egging each other on and calling the victims p**fs.”
News of the attack sparked a wave of condemnation on social media, with Edinburgh Council Leader, Adam McVey labelling it “horrific”.
Mr McVey, who is gay, added: "This isn’t the first violent, homophobic attack this year, my thoughts are with the victims this morning.
“We need to work together as a city to stamp out all root causes of hate.”