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Police investigating a violent brawl in the heart of Manchester’s gay district have said it is too early to say whether it was a homophobic incident or not.
Officers were alerted by CCTV operators to what appeared to be a serious fracas on Canal Street shortly after 11pm on Sunday night.
Initial reports cited several men fighting in the road and when police arrived they arrested five men for affray.
Once of those detained was apparently left unconscious in the violence and was taken to hospital with head injuries.
So far, two of the men who were arrested have been released with out charge and three others have been released on police bail.
However despite widespread speculation on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, police have have not yet classified the incident as a hate crime because nobody questioned has so far made that allegation.
Chief Inspector Gareth Parkin said: ‘There are rumours circulating on social media that this was a hate incident and this is what we have been told third or fourth hand, however we need a first person account from someone who was a victim of a homophobic incident in order to record it as such.’
One theory being considered is that the brawl was a result of a falling out amongst a group of LGBT+ men and was not connected to their sexuality.
‘What remains unclear is what the catalyst for this incident was,’ Chief Inspector Parkin added.
‘That said, it in no way detracts from the investigation that we will be doing to identify and bring to account those responsible for such ugly scenes.’
He said that with Manchester’s upcoming Pride celebrations the Police would be working with locals, visitors and businesses to ensure the event passed off peacefully and that everybody enjoyed themselves safely.
Chief Inspector Parkin stressed: ‘I want to reassure local businesses and residents, who live, reside or socialise in the gay village that we are treating this extremely seriously.
‘It goes without saying that incidents such as those witnessed that night are not welcome and will not be tolerated and if anyone has any information about what happened or those responsible I would urge them to get in touch.’
*Anybody who has any information about the incident or who saw what happened is asked to contact Greater Manchester Police on 0161 856 3221