Victim of homophobic attack in Liverpool city centre 'thought he was going to die'

ITV News North of England Reporter Hannah Miller reports on the rising number of hate crimes against LGBT+ people in Liverpool

A man who was subjected to a vicious homophobic attack in Liverpool has told ITV News he feared he might die.

Aodhán Benson was celebrating his graduation with friends in the city centre when he was beaten by three men.

It's the latest in a number of assaults and hate crimes targeting LGBT+ people in the city.

The 24-year-old told ITV News: "All I could think is 'what if I die and don't get the chance to tell my mum and dad that I love them'.

"No one goes on a night out and thinks they might not come home."

'What if I die and don't get the chance to tell my mum and dad that I love them?'

Two men have been arrested and released on bail while police continue their enquires.

Though Aodhán is on the road to recovery, the incident has shaken his very identity.

"When it all happened I was like, if this is what being gay means then I don't want to be gay.

"But I totally take that back - I'm never going to be ashamed of who I am, I'm so proud to be gay."

Aodhán went to hospital with his injuries. Credit: ITV News

"I'm so proud of the gay community and the things they've faced up to," he said.

"One punch can kill," Aodhán added.

"You could effectively ruin someone's life - you could end their life. You could ruin their family's lives and you could also ruin your own life."

"If this is what being gay means then I don't want to be gay."

According to latest figures from Merseyside Police, hate crimes against LGBT+ people have risen over 25% compared to figures recorded last year.

Figures show that from April 2020 to this March hate crimes against LGBT+ people were higher than in the previous 12 months.

Last month hundreds of people marched through Liverpool city centre in response to the rise in hate crime.

The series of incidents are a tragic reminder of the death of Liverpool teenager Michael Causer who died following a brutal homophobic attack in 2008.

Following the attack against Aodhán, police said they would continue "high visibility patrols" across the city centre.

"Officers and detectives will do everything in their power to track down anyone suspected of committing these offences, and we won't hesitate to put them behind bars."