Homosexuality is still broadly seen as a social taboo

A gay couple, who were attacked with a hammer by a balaclava-clad gang, said they are scared to hold hands in public again after the terrifying ordeal.

Ryan Winnard, 21, and his boyfriend Max Green, 18, were approached by the gang of men in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, at around 8:15 pm on Tuesday.

The gang hurled homophobic slurs at the couple as they held hands before attacking them as they tried to walk away.

Max was hit in the back of the head while Ryan was punched and attacked with a hammer in the horrific assault.

Ryan, from Salford, suffered a broken nose and a fractured cheekbone from the terrifying attack, while Max suffered a deep abrasion to his head.

Speaking about the ordeal, Ryan said: “Me and my boyfriend were heading home from his grandparents and as we were walking we could hear a group of lads.

“We were holding hands and they started shouting over at us calling us f*****s and gay boys.

“We carried on walking as we had no intention of starting any confrontation with them.

“Before we knew it, there were around five to six lads dressed in balaclavas and gloves running at us.

“They started attacking us, punching and kicking us, and were hitting me in the knees with a hammer.” 

Ryan said that a number of their items, including a mobile phone, their bank cards, keys and a Canada Goose coat, were stolen in the attack.

He continued: “I can remember hearing them telling Max to empty his pockets and to give them everything he had, they then all came to me and beat me up for my Canada Goose coat.

“They then took my phone, bag, shoes, bank cards, keys – all of my belongings.”

Ryan said he called police shortly afterwards, but says it was more than two hours until emergency services responded to the report.

Ryan said: “I rang the ambulance and police and waited for around more than two hours.

“It’s one of those things where we could have been laying on the floor unable to get up.

“They’ve been really good but when we needed them, they weren’t there.”

After the terrifying ordeal, the couple do not think they will ever be able to hold hands in public again. 

Ryan explained: “I don’t think I’ll ever, ever walk around Radcliffe again. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to hold my partner’s hand in the street again.

“I should be able to walk around and hold my boyfriend’s hand without fear of something like this happening.

“It’s one of those things that you never think would ever happen to you but now it has.”

Having shared details of the attack on social media, Ryan said he had been ‘overwhelmed’ with the response.

He said: “My mum was heartbroken when she found out it happened. 

“I’ve been overwhelmed with the support we’ve received from everyone. Everyone’s just trying to be there for us.”

Greater Manchester Police confirmed they received reports of a robbery at around 8:25pm on Tuesday.

A force spokesperson said: “Enquiries established that a group of around five to six people, wearing balaclavas, approached two males before assaulting them and stealing property from them including a phone.

“The men were also subject to verbal abuse from the group. No arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing.”

Anyone with information should contact police via www.gmp.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting incident 2795 of 23/11/21.