SYDNEY, N.S. - Cape Breton Regional Police is investigating a possible hate crime after a man was allegedly assaulted outside a dance for gays and lesbians.

Police spokeswoman Desiree Vassallo said Thursday a 28-year-old man was punched in the face as he left the dance at the Southend Community Centre in Sydney at about 2 a.m. on Sunday.

"Investigators believe that it was a targeted act and they're treating it as a hate crime," she said. "Police are looking for two male suspects."

Peter Steele, chairman of Pride Cape Breton, said the incident occurred at one of two dances the group holds every month.

He said people at the dance told him that two men were leaving the dance when a car drove by and someone yelled homophobic comments.

Steele said they've never had trouble in the two decades they've been holding social events and was stunned that someone might target gays and lesbians.

"Never in those 20 or more years have we had an incident," he said. "This is certainly a first, so it's not only a major shock to us. It's a shock to the to the community itself."

Vassallo said they believe there were witnesses and are asking anyone with information to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

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