A RUGBY player from Clydebank has spoken out after he and his partner suffered a homophobic attack as they walked home.

Connor McKnight was walking across Waverley Bridge in Edinburgh with his partner after a rugby night out when a group of four people shouted a homophobic slur at the couple.

The 28-year-old, who plays for Glasgow’s only inclusive rugby club, Glasgow Raptors, confronted the group only to be punched by one of them.

Connor explained that despite being physically uninjured the incident has had a long-lasting impact on him.

He said:  “A group of four people shouted a homophobic slur at us as we walked back to our hotel after the night out.

“I confronted them, but unfortunately it ended with one of them punching me on the jaw.

"I’m a confident, 5ft 11 rugby forward, and I wasn’t going to have someone speak to us like that.

“But I was worried things would get out of hand if I retaliated physically, instead I decided to walk away after telling them exactly what I thought of them.”

The rugby vice-captain explained the attack has left him feeling hesitant before holding his partner’s hand in public or showing affection.

Ahead of Hate Crime Awareness Week (HCAW) - which runs from October 14 to 21 - Connor is urging people who have been victims of hate crimes to speak up.

He added: “I reported it to the police but no one was ever charged. I’m an adult and I can look after myself, but what if it had happened to a queer youth who is less secure in their identity?

“Hate Crime is on the rise and I think people need to report it because if we don’t, nothing will ever change.

“Fortunately, I have the support of all my teammates to fall back on. However, some LGBTQI+ folk may not have a strong support network, so I think the Third Party Reporting Centres are a really good idea.”

A hate crime is any crime motivated by prejudice and hostility towards a person’s identity or perceived identity.

Under Scottish legislation, there are five protected characteristics. These are disability, race, religious identity, sexual orientation, and transgender identity.

Glasgow City Council is the only local authority in Scotland to employ a dedicated Hate Crime Awareness officer.

The council has also launched a new website offering advice and support to victims of hate crimes as well as providing information for anyone interested in finding out more about Third Part Reporting Centres.

Secondary pupils across the city will receive presentations during HCAW from campus police officers.

They will also be shown adverts highlighting the issue and how to report it – these will also appear on the subway, digital BT advertising boards and on social media.

Councillor Elaine McSporran, chair of Glasgow’s Hate Crime Awareness Working Group, thanked Connor for sharing his experience.

Cllr McSporran said: “Hate crime of any kind is abhorrent and will not be tolerated in this city.

“Glasgow is an inclusive city and I strongly urge anyone who has experienced hate crime or witnessed it, to report it either to the police or via a Third Party Reporting Centre where they will receive support.

“Only by speaking up, can we call out those who break the law by verbally or physically attacking people for their race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability.”

Hate crimes can be reported to police or via a Third Party Reporting Centre HERE.