A new survey of gay, bisexual and lesbian people has revealed that they are regular targets for physical and verbal abuse, yet many do not trust the police to take action.
Homophobic Hate Crime: The Gay British Crime Survey spoke to more than 1,700 LGB people in England, Scotland and Wales.
The results have prompted a response at the highest levels of government, with Home Secretary Jacqui Smith writing a foreward to the report pledging action.
Among the findings from the survey, which was commissioned by gay equality organisation Stonewall and conducted by respected polling company YouGov:
One in five lesbian and gay people have experienced a homophobic hate crime or incident in the last three years.
One in eight have been a victim in the last year.
Three in four of those experiencing hate crimes or incidents did not report them to the police.
Only six per cent reported them to third parties.
Seven in ten did not report hate crimes or incidents to anyone.
One in six experiencing homophobic hate incidents in the last three years experienced a physical assault.
Eight per cent of all black and minority ethnic lesbian and gay people have experienced a physical assault as a homophobic hate incident, compared to four per cent of all lesbian and gay people.
One in six lesbian and gay people have been insulted and harassed in the last three years because they are gay.
One in eight lesbian and gay people experiencing homophobic hate incidents have experienced unwanted sexual contact as part of the incident.
Overall, three in five lesbian and gay people have been a victim of any crime or incident in the last three years.
Attitudes towards the police demonstrate that despite campaigns and the work of LGBT Liaison Officers in some areas, many gay people do not think they take homophobia seriously.
A third of victims do not report incidents to the police because they do not think the police would
or could do anything about it.
Some people are facing regular harassment, while lesbian couples and even their children are exposed to hatred by homophobes.
Fourteen per cent of victims of homophobic hate crimes or incidents did not report them to anyone because they happen too frequently to report.
Young people are more likely to be a victim of homophobic abuse.
Three quarters of 18 to 24 year olds who experienced a hate incident were subjected to homophobic abuse during the incident compared to three in five victims aged 45 to 54.
One in ten lesbian and gay people say that being a victim of crime is their biggest worry, more than being ill or having financial debts.
Half of lesbians experiencing hate crimes and incidents say they occurred when they were with
Six per cent say they occurred when they were with a child.
The perception that the criminal justice system is failing to punish homophobic crimes is borne out by the shocking statistic that a mere one per cent of all victims report that the homophobic hate crime or incident resulted in a conviction.
Half of victims who reported hate incidents to the police say it resulted in no action being taken other than the incident being recorded.
A quarter say the incident was not recorded as a hate incident or crime.
Almost three in ten victims who reported hate incidents to the police do not know whether they were recorded as a homophobic hate incident or crime.
Almost three in ten victims who reported hate incidents to the police say they were investigated but no charges were brought.
Two thirds of those who reported incidents to the police were not offered or referred to advice or
One in six victims say that the hate crime or incident was carried out by people who live in the
One in ten say they were committed by a work colleague.
Almost half of lesbian and gay people think they are at greater risk of being physically assaulted than a heterosexual.
Almost one in five victims of homophobic hate incidents say that being gay was identifiable to the perpetrator because of the way they looked or dressed.
A third of lesbian and gay people alter their behaviour so they are not perceived as being gay specifically to prevent being a victim of crime.
Lesbians who experienced a hate incident are more than twice as likely as gay men to say that they were identifiable to the perpetrator as gay because of how they looked.
A third of lesbians who experienced a hate incident say being a lesbian was identifiable by the way they look.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said:
“Despite significant progress towards securing legislative equality, the daily lives of too many of Britain’s 3.6 million lesbian and gay people are still overshadowed by the fear of homophobic hate crime.
“The risk of being attacked or abused on the street or in their homes remains an everyday reality.
“Equally disturbing is that our criminal justice system still has no reliable picture of the actual number of homophobic hate crimes taking place every year.
“That’s why this report, the first statistically significant national survey of its kind into the extent and nature of homophobic hate crime, is so important.
“The lived experiences this survey has uncovered are shocking. Lesbian and gay people experience a whole range of offences motivated by homophobia, from harassment to serious sexual and physical assaults.
“One in five have fallen victim to a homophobic hate crime or incident in the last three years. Often these incidents occur repeatedly and around people’s homes.
“And it is not just lesbian and gay people who become victims of homophobic crime, but their children, friends and family too.
“There have been some distinct steps by the police and the criminal justice system to tackle hate crime in recent years, but it is clear that far more needs to be done.”
The report’s ten key recommendations include encouraging police to improve the recording of homophobic hate incidents and help lesbian and gay people to report them.
The report also recommends tackling homophobic bullying in schools and the workplace in order to help reduce the likelihood of homophobic incidents on the streets.
The total sample size was 1,721 lesbian, gay and bisexual adults from across Britain.
Fieldwork was undertaken between 29 February and 4 March 2008.
The survey was conducted using an online interview administered to members of the YouGov plc GB panel of 185,000 individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys.
Selected panellists who had indicated they are lesbian, gay or bisexual, were contacted by email inviting them to take part in the survey and providing a link to the survey.
The resulting data was analysed and presented by Stonewall.
Respondents who answered ‘do not know’ to questions were excluded from analysis unless statistically significant.
Some figures are presented in summary form rather than percentages.
Data from Scotland has been included in the analysis, but the recommendations only apply to England and Wales.
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