Out Labour MP: A constituent told me that gay people should be killed and sent to hell
Gay Labour MP Stephen Doughty has spoken about some of the racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic things he has heard while campaigning.
The Labour politician has been the Member of Parliament for Cardiff South and Penarth since a 2012 by-election, and was re-elected in 2015.
Mr Doughty spoke in a Commons debate yesterday discussing the rise in the number of hate crimes since the EU referendum, to point out that the problem had been getting worse for a while.
He said: “It is not just in the context of the referendum that we have seen hate crime increasing. I saw this horror in last year’s general election.
“In just one street in my constituency, somebody told me that that they would not vote Labour because all we did was support the ‘N-words’, another person pointed to a black woman in the street and told her she should go home, another told me that gay people should be killed and sent to hell, there was a race hate attack in a fish and chip shop at the end of the road, and somebody said that we needed to stand up against the Jews.
“That was all in one street.
“This has been going on for some time… it has been a problem in the referendum, but it has been coming for a while.”
He added that aside from physical incidents, “the impact of social media and the internet as a common theme running through everything I have seen in the last few years – whether it be this type of hate crime, hate crime directed at LGBT people, extremism, radicalisation for terrorism or the sectarianism we saw in the Scottish referendum that was also played out online.”
The MP continued: “Social media companies and internet providers have a great deal of responsibility here.
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“It is not easy enough to report or deal with hate crime, of all sorts, and the internet is currently filled with abuse, whether it is anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-gay or anti-women.
“Many Members of this Chamber have experienced that abuse in recent days, from the left and from the right, and the companies that are involved need to take a much firmer hand.”
His fellow MP Yasmin Qureshi said she had also failed to convince social media companies to take abuse sent to her seriously.
She said: “I absolutely agree. It is so difficult to make a complaint.
“I am one of those people who can relate, on a personal level, the amount of abuse that I have received.
“When I tried to contact the organisations concerned, I got nowhere. It is important that we think about how we can regulate that and ensure that social media companies deal with these issues responsibly and monitor the posts that are being put on their sites.
“It seems that most of them completely fail to do that.”
Earlier this year, Yvette Cooper launched a cross-party campaign to ‘reclaim the internet’ from abusive trolls – aiming to engage with Facebook and Twitter to tackle abuse and hate speech online.