The gay community has backed an advert by the Gay Police Association (GPA) which attributed recent homophobic attacks to religious belief.
Scotland Yard is considering an investigation into the group after it placed an advertisement in The Independent’s diversity supplement which coincided with the EuroPride rally, displaying a pool of blood next to a Bible.
The advert said: “In the last 12 months, the GPA has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator.”
Scotland Yard is considering whether the ad “constitutes a faith crime,” after a member of the public launched a complaint.
However, gay campaigners say the information is based on facts, Ben Summerskill chief executive of gay charity Stonewall said: “The advert is based on robust evidence, we currently know of a number of cases where the motivation is clearly based on someone’s beliefs from the Bible.
“I would rather Scotland Yard spent more time investigating homophobic incidents, The GPA wouldn’t be saying these things if they weren’t valid.”
Peter Tatchell of gay rights group Outrage said: “The advert was simply reporting the facts, it cannot be a crime to expose the truth about hate motivated attacks on gay people.
The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association claimed that Christian groups made the complaint, secretary George Broadhead wrote a letter to the GPA backing their stance, he said: “It is outrageous that Christians should suggest that complaints about their homophobia amount to an attack on their ‘religious freedom’. It increasingly appears that ‘religious freedom’ amounts to a freedom to attack
and insult gay people.
“The Government’s granting of exemptions from equality legislation to allow religious groups to go on discriminating against gay people is an example of this. Under the new Goods and Services Discrimination Regulations which come into effect in October, it will be illegal to discriminate against gay people in the provision of goods and services from that date, but religious groups are pressing for exemptions that would allow them, uniquely, to continue to do so. How religious people can claim that their faith is not homophobic is incomprehensible.”
The letter urges the GPA to “stick to their guns” and not back down on its claims under pressure from religionists.
A GPA spokesperson told The BBC they are unable to comment until the investigation is completed.
It is illegal to incite religious hatred under the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, however despite campaigning, incitement to homophobic attacks is not a crime.