A lesbian couple was brutally attacked by two men hurling homophobic slurs in Limerick, Ireland, leaving one of the young women unconscious, the other badly beaten and in shock, reports The Independent newspaper.
Roisin Prendergast, 20, and her girlfriend, 17-year-old Ciara Murphy, said they were walking toward a restaurant about 2 a.m. on February 15 when the attack occurred, telling the paper the unknown attackers appeared to be in their mid-20s and "well-dressed, as if coming back from a night out."
"We had literally left our apartment only minutes before when these two grown men started shouting abuse at us about being lesbians," Prendergast told the Sunday Independent. "Initially we shouted back as we are used to this kind of abuse -- but then they walked back towards us and started shoving us roughly."
Things escalated quickly from there, the couple said.
"Suddenly, the men pushed us to the ground. They were stepping on our chests, they kneed and kicked us," Murphy recalled.
After roughly 10 minutes of violence, the men appeared to leave the scene, taking Murphy's hat -- but returned shortly thereafter.
"We thought it was over," Prendergast said. "Then one guy came back, threw Ciara against a shop window and ripped up her hat in front of her." Murphy then fell unconscious.
A couple of unnamed good samaritans offered aide to the beaten couple, calling emergency services to the scene. Authorities have not announced whether they will investigate the attack as a hate crime, but the victims are certain that's what it was, according to a post on Prendergast's Facebook page highlighted by Towleroad:
"I know our bruises will heal, I know we will be okay but this is not something I am going to let go. Watching someone you love getting hurt while you yourself are getting hurt is not something anyone should ever have to endure straight or gay. This to me was a hate crime. I am finished crying, today starts the first of many actions which will be taken to get justice."
Law enforcement officials are investigating the crime, but said that closed-circuit television footage of the attack was of too poor quality to be useful in identifying the attackers.