AN ACTOR who had stones thrown at her in a vicious homophobic attack said she "never would've expected it in Southampton".

Rebecca Banatvala shared a small kiss with her partner Lucy Parkinson whilst on the way to a matinee performance at Nuffield Southampton Theatre (NST) Campus on Saturday.

That was when a group of men in a passing car started throwing stones at them whilst shouting homophobic abuse.

Daily Echo:

Lucy, 31, was hit between her temple and her right eye, knocking her to the ground.

Rebecca, 27, told the Echo: "I never would've expected such a thing to happen in Southampton of all places. It seems like a very accepting place – there's even a Pride flag hanging at the train station."

The couple of ten months are performers touring the UK in Rotterdam, a play about gender and sexuality, which was set for a three-day run in the city – but both actors decided to cancel Saturday's shows following the incident.

Rebecca continued: "We were walking to the matinee show just chatting, then we shared a kiss, and another little one moments later.

"That's when the stone hit Lucy, and she was on the floor struggling to breathe. She was really upset and angry, as you can imagine.

"We didn't see them, but we heard laughter and slurs like "disgusting gays" as they drove away. They sounded like young men."

Daily Echo:

Lucy Parkinson, third from left, with the cast of Rotterdam

The attack comes just a week after a gay couple were assaulted on a London bus.

Hampshire Police are now investigating the incident.

Daniel Langrish-Beard, one of the main organisers for Southampton Pride, described the incident as "disgusting".

The 44-year-old said: "I feel so sorry for the actors, for it to happen in a city like this, that has such a proud LGBT community.

"It's absolutely devastating for this city of culture to have that happen.

"This just goes to show that there is still a fight to go on. We still need change things, and we are not quite where we need to be.

"I've been with my husband 25 years and we have never held hands in the street because we are just not comfortable enough to do it yet."

NST director Sam Hodges tweeted: "I am extremely sad that this sort of appalling behaviour is still happening anywhere, let alone in Southampton, where we have worked so hard to promote a culture of tolerance, inclusivity and civic pride."

Anyone with information on the incident should call police on 101 quoting 44190196869.