Homotopia, Liverpool’s annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans festival, begins next week.

It usually focuses on theatre, comedy, literature and debate but this year, organisers are emphasising the impact of homophobic hate crime with the strapline ‘Homotopia not homophobia’.

In the last 18 months, Liverpool has seen the death of one gay man, Michael Causer, while trainee policeman James Parkes is still recovering in hospital from a homophobic gang attack.

Gary Everett, artistic director of Homotopia, told PinkNews.co.uk: “We’ve always done social justice work but we decided in April – when we organised a trip for a group of gay youths to visit Poland and Auschwitz that we would focus more on it. We’ve been looking at the history of lesbians and gays and how they were treated in the Holocaust, along with the rise of homophobic hate crime in Europe and decided to consolidate a year’s work.

“The social justice aspect has always been quite latent in the festival but we didn’t know we would start it this year with the assault on that young policeman which was a shocking attack. It’s very spooky.”

Everett said the highlights of this year’s festival would be an appearance from lesbian author Sarah Waters, a launch from American artist Laurie Lipton and a world premiere of a play about Charles Hawtrey.

There will also be a screening of ‘Invisible Death Of Michael’, a film about the media coverage of Michael Causer.

Homotopia launches on Sunday and will run for a month until Monday November 30th.

The full programme can be viewed here in PDF format.