Home Office minister will join Stonewall at hate crimes report launch

Tony Grew June 19, 2008
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New research conducted by gay equality organisation Stonewall will have high-level government support at its launch next week.

Homophobic Hate Crime: The Gay British Crime Survey 2008 is the first comprehensive study of gay, bisexual and lesbian people’s experiences of hate crimes in England and Wales.

The survey was conducted by pollsters YouGov and funded by a £26,900 grant from the Home Office.

Vernon Coaker, Under Secretary of State for Crime Reduction, will be joining Stonewall to launch the report next Thursday.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, told

“We are delighted that Vernon Coaker has asked to attend the launch of the report.

“We hope the government will take very seriously the findings of this pioneering research.”

Incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation was outlawed as part of the Criminal Justice Act which became law last month.

However, an amendment by Tory peer Lord Waddington, a former Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher, was added to the bill.

His amendment to the offence of using threatening language with intent to stir up hatred on grounds of sexual orientation said that urging someone to change their sexuality should not count “of itself” as threatening or as intended to stir up hatred.

While he claimed his amendment was about “free speech,” in effect it gives people leeway to claim they were just following their religious beliefs when inciting others to hate gay, lesbian or bisexual people.

Northern Ireland already has comprehensive hate crimes legislation.

The Scottish Parliament is considering a bill that would extend hate crimes to cover sexual orientation and disability. The bill was proposed by Green party MSP Patrick Harvie.

Stonewall’s new report will provide for the first time detailed information, mirroring that in the British Crime Survey, about the homophobic hate crime experiences of LGB people.

At present the BCS fails to ask respondents about their sexual orientation, despite government and police initiatives around homophobic crime.

A report commissioned by Lothian and Borders Police and released in January found that 15% of gay men in Edinburgh have been attacked in the last year.

One in four of the 150 men questioned said they had been the victim of homophobic violence in the last five years.

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