Hate crime and homophobia is on the rise in Leamington, say worried campaigners after a 16-year-old was attacked over his sexuality on Saturday.
The teenager was the victim of a homophobic attack while walking on the Grand Union canal near Eastnor Grove at 11:30pm on Saturday.
The boy was with his male partner when he was verbally and physically assaulted.
And members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are keen to address a “worrying rise” in homophobic abuse.
LGBT event organiser Daniel Browne said there has been a spike in hate crimes and anti-gay attacks in Leamington over the past two years. And is urging all victims to report incidents to police so the problem is not hidden away.
Branding the canal attack as “terrifying”, Mr Browne said: “A lot of these attacks are not reported and that is part of the problem. But there has certainly been a spike in hate crimes for whatever reason.
“People are largely unaware of the level of attacks that take place still in Leamington.
“Now there is a lot of equal rights and gay marriage people assume homophobia is a thing of the past.
“But it isn’t. We want to raise awareness of that, and to urge any victims of homophobic crimes to come forward.”
Mr Browne, who has organised a rally to spread awareness, has reported an attack on one transgender person in Sydenham last year, a second being beaten in the street and a third having their windows smashed multiple times.
He also spoke of a drag queen being pushed down the stairs in a town pub and of gay people being regularly pinned up against walls in bars.
A police spokeswoman said they were investigating a hate crime on September 12.
She said: “A 16 year-old boy was verbally assaulted using homophobic and racist language and then assaulted. He suffered minor injuries.”
The Leamington Spa Equality Rally takes place on October 3 outside the town hall from 11am to 1pm to raise awareness of attacks. All welcome.