BOSTON (WHDH) - Police are investigating a violent attack outside of a gay bar in Boston as a possible hate crime after three people reported they were assaulted, officials said.

The three people say they were leaving Jacque’s Cabaret in the Bay Village at 12:15 a.m. Saturday when a group of people attacked them. Police say they do not believe the attack was random.

“The group was shouting homophobic slurs while they punched and kicked one of the victims on the ground before putting him into a chokehold,” the group said in a statement. “The victims will be pursuing this as a homophobic hate crime. What we were always scared of happening to us has finally happened.”

Chris Erchull, of LGBTQ Advocates and Defenders, said attacks of this kind are on the rise.

“We are very concerned when we hear about incidents of violence such as what happened Saturday night outside of Jacques,” he said, “especially because of the sudden and violent nature of the attack.”

He added, “We are aware of reports that hate crime are on the rise both against the LBGQT community and other marginalized communities both nationwide and here in Massachusetts.”

Jacque’s is a popular gay gathering spot that hosts drag performances and karaoke. It welcomes straight people as well, often hosting bachelor parties.

“We are concerned it was in a space that was a community gathering – and of course those community gatherings ought to be the safest places for the LGBTQ community to gather,” Erchull said.

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