Stonewall Cymru will be calling for greater partnership work between the policeand the lesbian, gay and bisexual community at their annual conference on tomorrow.

The gay equality organisation will be highlighting the need to reassure the LGB community that homophobic hate crime is being tackled as a priority says Jenny Porter, Stonewall Cymru’s Community Liaison Officer.

“The police forces in Wales are making significant improvements in the way they record and respond to homophobic hate crime,” she told PinkNews.co.uk

“This is reflected in the more consistent approach they have recently taken when recording homophobic incidences.

“The next steps involve police and safety professionals working alongside the lesbian, gay and bisexual community to encourage reporting of homophobic hate crime and supporting victims.”

Ms Porter said that LGB people need to feel reassured that homophobic hate crime will be taken seriously and feel more confident to report incidents.

The number of homophobic hate crime cases that make it to court is very low.

Some witnesses and victims fear repercussions from the perpetrator.

Others may be wary of revealing their sexuality in court.

The Crown Prosecution Service now have powers to recognise the aggravating feature of homophobia at the sentencing stage.

It has recorded 63% of successful outcomes of cases brought to court in 2006.

A CPS spokesperson said:

“Prosecutors will cite homophobia as an aggravating feature of an offence and draw this to the attention of the court from the outset and at sentencing.”

Matthew Batten, Policy and Public Affairs Officer for Stonewall Cymru commented:

“People who are homophobic are as likely to be racist, sexist and discriminatory against people with disabilities.

“Partnership work with other organisations remains the best way to tackle homophobic hate crime as it can play a vital role in tackling other types of hate crime.”

The conference takes place tomorrow at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea.

Speakers include representatives from the South Wales Police, Victim Support and the Crown Prosecution Service who will highlight the work that is being done to challenge homophobic hate crime in Wales.