Current Affairs

Home Office defends anti-homophobia campaign

Marc Shoffman December 29, 2006
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Minister for Police and Security Tony McNulty has hit out at critics of new guidance on tackling homophobic hate crime.

The Home Office today launched a campaign promoting effective ways of reporting and stopping homophobic crime which includes using schools to teach against homophobia.

But already critics have described the report as “barmy politically correct nonsense.”

Conservative MP Philip Davies described recommendations such as clamping down on homophobic language in schools and running gay awareness campaigns as “barmy, politically correct nonsense.”

He told The Sun that it would, “brainwash kids.”

“Schools should concentrate on teaching children the 3Rs,” he said.

His opposition has been echoed in the Daily Mail which claims the recommendations will mean schools can be punished for not fighting homophobia.

Mr McNulty said the claims are pathetic.

He told It’s pathetic, the sum total of the response from the Conservatives is Philip Davies saying this is all about political correctness, given there were a thousand homophobic crimes in London last year, he needs to imagine himself on the wrong end of a boot in his face and then tell me it’s about political correctness.

“It’s about a section of our community being on the wrong end of crimes rooted in prejudice towards their lifestyle and sexuality

“The notion that we do need to get more education and awareness around these issues is vital, which is why schools are mentioned in the report.”

He said he would also expect faith schools to comply with recommendations regarding stopping homophobic abuse, “It should be part of their wider moral and ethical framework.

“This isn’t about section 28 or promoting homosexuality, it is about teaching people citizenship and their roles and responsibilities in society to each other.”

The guidance, titled “Tackling Homophobic Hate Crime,” highlights good practice from around England and Wales, and stresses the best way for crime reduction agencies, including the police, to do more to crackdown on crime motivated by prejudice or hate.

It states agencies that are part of Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships should encourage more victims and witnesses to come forward to report homophobic hate crime; improve the response of the criminal justice system; increase confidence in the criminal justice system so that people feel they can report homophobic hate crime; improve data sharing; and tackle repeated victimisation.

The guidance features previously effective examples of tackling hate crime through raising awareness, encouraging victims to report crimes and tools, such as fixed penalty notices and penalty notices for disorder, which police and other partners can use to tackle this form of hate crime.

There were over 1,000 homophobic incidents in London alone in 2005, but police estimate that around 90 per cent of hate crime is not reported. Hate crime is defined as any criminal incident which is seen by the victim as being motivated by prejudice or hatred of a particular community. Targeted robbery and blackmail are included in this definition.

One way of using schools to fight homophobia is being pioneered by gay charity Stonewall. It is currently producing DVDs to be distributed to schools across the UK providing advice on how teachers can fight homophobic bullying.

Alan Wardle, Director of Public Affairs at Stonewall, said: “Stonewall welcomes this guidance from the Home Office. It’s vital that police forces work with their local lesbian and gay communities to tackle homophobic crime and encourage more people to report them.”

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