A British man says he was brutally beaten up by two men during a night out after he bravely stood up for two of his gay best friends who were being subjected to a “homophobic” attack for holding hands.
Lee Brobson, 30, suffered facial injuries after trying to defuse a heated confrontation in Chelmsford, Essex, in the early hours of January 26.
He said the attack began with “homophobic slurs” but quickly turned violent as the two men “were going for blood.”
Brobson and his two friends, Dan and Clark, were walking past a local fast food shop when they saw the two men glaring at his friends, Dan and Clark, holding hands.
“The men were staring at us and called us unnatural as my mates were holding hands,” he said.
He said one of his friends greeted the group “and that was it – that was all the provocation they needed”.
Brobson said he initially tried to calm the situation before it turned violent.
“I went in there completely non-confrontationally, [with] open palms. As soon as they threw a punch then it was closed fists,” he said. “They set into us. They were going for blood.”
“I could have lost my life,” he said. “Anything could have happened: They could’ve given me some serious brain trauma. they could’ve had a knife, they could’ve been more of them hanging around the corner just waiting for the response.”
He was transported to a nearby hospital by police for treatment to his face and arms.
One of his friends who was threatened, Daniel Berry Birrell, described Brobson as “heroic.”
“I don’t think he should have had to do it. I’m grateful that he was there and extremely thankful,” he added.
While he doesn’t regret standing up for his friends, Brobson says he wouldn’t want anyone to experience the trauma he experienced.
Brobson is using the attack to help raise money for the Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline, one of the oldest queer hotlines in the U.K. which provides informed, empowering and non-judgemental support for any inquiries about sexuality, gender identity, sexual health, and emotional well-being.
Police have labeled the incident a hate crime and are currently reviewing video footage near the incident for images of the suspected attackers.
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We received a report of an assault in Chelmsford during the early hours of Sunday 26 January.
“It was reported that two men were being verbally abusive towards two other men on Moulsham Street.
“The men were then said to assault a man in his 20s and a man in his 30s, before running off.
“Officers arrived and a man in his 30s was taken to hospital and treated for injuries no believed to be serious.
“Enquiries are ongoing and our priority at this stage is to speak with the victims to establish the full circumstances of what happened, so that the assault can be investigatied appropriately.
“Anyone who witnessed the incident are asked to contact Chelmsford local police station on 101, quoting reference 42/13695/20.”