Gay rights activists were beaten, kicked, and spat at by a crowd of up to 250 people as they protested against the homophobic lyrics of three singers nominated for the MOBOs (Music of Black Origin) awards.
The small OutRage! group, led by the campaigner Peter Tatchell, were attacked as they raised placards outside the awards ceremony at the London Arena, and had to be rescued by police and security staff.
They objected to the nomination of three artists nominated in the reggae category, Capelton, Elephant Man and TOK, some of whose songs advocate the murder and burning of gay people.
Twenty five teenagers led the attack, shouting “Kill the batty boy” and “Kill chi chi men” (Caribbean slang abuse for homosexuals) – security staff dragged the five protesters to safety.
Police surrounded the protestors in a safety cordon and as the crowd tried to break through officers evacuated them from the area.
Mr Tatchell said afterwards that at one stage he feared he was going to be lynched. “This was one of the scariest moments in my 30 years of campaigning. Our lives were threatened several times, particularly by two men who claimed to have knives.
“Beer cans, coins and cigarette lighters were thrown at us. The mood of the whole crowd was very ugly, not just the group who were actually violent. For a moment, I was in fear of my life,” he said.
MOBO organisers refuesd to comment on the attacks, though a spokesman did say: “The awards are voted for by members of the industry. MOBO has no control on who is and who is not nominated, they are purely a reflection of opinion.”
There were no arrests.