A GAY couple were attacked in Southend High Street during a “homophobic hate crime”.

Two men suffered serious injuries after being attacked by a gang in Southend.

The couple, aged 25 and 28, had been attending a work party in the town before they were subjected to the vicious attack in High Street.

The two had left the Slug and Lettuce and were walking down the street when a group of men asked them if they had a cigarette.

They said no and continued walking, but then the group caught up to them.

One of the gang claimed to have been subjected to a racist remark, which was firmly denied before the gang launched an assault.

One member of the couple was held to the floor and repeatedly kicked while on the ground.

The other member of the couple was punched in the face several times, and the gang took away his phone when he tried to call police and catch them on his camera.

The couple managed to get back to the pub where they were helped by members of staff at the pub who were praised for their support.

Speaking to the Echo, the mother of one of the men, said: “I had no idea what happened until the next morning.

“My son came into my room and told me not to freak out, but he had been attacked.

“His face was so swollen and red, and then I did freak out.

“We took them both to hospital and it wasn’t until the swelling went down that the doctors said he would need to have some reconstruction in his face.”

The two men are now recovering but have been shook up by the ordeal and have reported it to the police.

The mother believes the men were victims of a hate crime.

She said: “My son was on the phone to his sister at the time, and they were either holding hands or linking arms.

“They never did anything to intimidate or provoke their attackers, I think they purely must have been targeted because they were two men in a relationship.”

The mother shared her ordeal on social media and has since received overwhelming support.

She added: “It clearly shows there’s a problem in Southend with attacks, so many came to me and said they’d heard of similar incidents happening in the town centre.

“It’s just got to stop. We are all trying to move past it but are very shook up.”

An Essex Police spokesman said: "We received reports of an assault at around 1am on Saturday November 30, in Southchurch Road, Southend.

"A group of four men were believed to have said something of a homophobic nature to two men in their 20s.

"The two men where then assaulted, one of which has sustained a facial injury."

Witnesses or anyone with information should call Essex Police on 101