A young lesbian couple were beaten-up in the street in a vicious homophobic attack.

The couple were both punched in the face after being verbally abused by a group of men in Gloucester Place, Brighton.

Gay campaigners claim the police - who waited 12 days before appealing for witnesses to the attack - should do more to prosecute those who commit hate crimes against members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.

The couple, who are aged 18 and 22, were walking hand in hand at about 3am on October 7.

When they turned towards the three men shouting homophobic insults at them, two of the men attacked them, punching them both in the head.

Even when the young women begged the third man, who had a large brown dog, to stop his friends, he did not intervene.

The men then ran off in the direction of Queens Road. All three men were described as white and in their early twenties.

Brighton police's LGBT liaison officer Nick Antjoule said the high density of LGBT people in Brighton meant there would be more attacks per head of population than in less tolerant towns and cities.

He said: "Brighton has a large and vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans population in comparison with other parts of the UK.

“Although our city is generally an inclusive place to be, when incidents of this kind occur we make every effort to identify and prosecute those responsible. Hate crime reported to Sussex Police in the Brighton area has decreased steadily over the last three years."

Editor of gay-magazine Gscene James Ledward, said victims needed to see more convictions or people would stop reporting homophobic attacks.

He said: “I have been working with the police for ten years to try and work on ways of encouraging more people to report homophobic attacks.

“Hate crimes are typically under reported and the per centage of people reporting them is improving, but the problem is they have put all their attention into reporting mechanisms when they should be focusing on convictions.

“If people don't see prosecutions going to court and people being punished for these vile crimes, then they won't be able to see the point and will lose trust and stop reporting them again.”

A spokeswoman Sussex Police could not explain why the appeal for witnesses had not been released sooner.

Anyone who saw the attack or three men in the area at about 3am on October 7 should contact Sussex Police on 0845 6070999.