A Stroud couple were shocked to be the victim of hateful and homophobic comments near their home last week.

John Copley and his husband Chris Hammond said they were subjected to verbal abuse and intimidation on March 18, including openly prejudicial insults based on their sexual orientation.

Police have spoken to the couple and are investigating the incident.

“We moved to Stroud to start our family as it’s one of the most socially liberal places in the country, which makes the fact that we have experienced this terrible prejudice and homophobia here even more shocking,” said Mr Copley.

“We feel we must highlight this behaviour as it totally unacceptable anywhere in this county in 2021."

One in five LGBT+ people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the last 12 months, according to Stonewall.

The charity also found four in five anti-LGBT+ hate crimes and incidents go unreported, with younger LGBT people particularly reluctant to go to the police.

Something is a homophobic hate incident if the victim or anyone else thinks it was carried out because of hostility or prejudice based on sexual orientation.

Kieran Aldred, head of policy at Stonewall, said: “Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people should feel safe in all areas of their lives and no one should face hatred simply because of who they are.

“Sadly, the reality is very different and as incidents like this demonstrate, lesbian, gay, bi and trans people still face shocking levels of abuse in Britain today.

“There must be improvements in the systems of reporting and the handling of anti-LGBT+ hate crimes by police for LGBT+ people to have confidence in reporting abuse: no matter how small the incident.”

“All of us have a part to play in making sure attacks like this no longer happen, but particularly those who are straight or cisgender. We need people who believe in equality to take action and to come out for LGBT+ people.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Gloucestershire Constabulary said: “We take all incidents of hate crime seriously and will investigate to ensure offenders are dealt with appropriately and victims are given a voice.”

If you believe you have been a victim of a hate crime, please do contact police through their website.