Alcohol is a massive factor in violent homophobic attacks, study finds
Alcohol is a massive factor when it comes to violent hate crime attacks, according to a new study.
Researchers at Cardiff University carried out interviews with 124 people who had sought emergency treatment following violent attacks across the UK.
The study, ‘Injury resulting from targeted violence: An emergency department perspective’, was published in the journal of Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health – and found a strong link between homophobic violence and drunkenness.
According to the researchers, 18.5% of people admitted considered themselves to have been victims of hate crimes motivated by prejudice.
Of those, 90% said that alcohol intoxication was a factor in the attack.
Professor Jonathan Shepherd of the Cardiff University Crime and Security Research Institute says that the research suggests that being drunk can act as an “igniter” for people’s racist and homophobic prejudice.
He explained: “A striking aspect of the study was the discovery that most attacks weren’t fuelled by hate alone; alcohol appeared to act as an igniter.
“Our findings suggest that tackling alcohol abuse is not only important in regards to the health of individuals but also to the health of our society.
“Additionally, we have learned that emergency room violence surveys can act as a community tension sensor and early warning system.”
The survey was carried out at emergency departments in Cardiff, Blackburn and Leicester.
The authors noted: “A striking aspect of the study was the manner in which explanations of the attacks brought to light more than one cause that, in turn, were found to reinforce each other.
“According to the injured, all but two of the perpetrators of targeted violence were under the influence of alcohol.
“Here, although the primary motivation was identified as hate, in most cases, expression of this hate only occurred under intoxication.M
“any respondents felt that the link between alcohol intoxication and hate was so strong that violent behaviour was inevitable in these circumstances.
“Limiting alcohol consumption was viewed by many of those injured in targeted and hate violence as a strategy to reduce the risk.”
It adds: “One respondent vowed not to consume a specific alcoholic beverage because he believed that it had contributed to his own violent behaviour.
“Intoxicated respondents also often displayed a vengeful attitude towards their assailants and expressed a wish to intervene in a fight, for example, to protect a friend or relative, later viewing themselves as misunderstood ‘peacemakers’.”
The study noted that “there was no evidence that targeted violence victims were more severely injured than the others, with patient triage category, indicating medical need, supporting this”.
The extremely small sample size for victims of hate crimes in the study precludes too much extrapolation from the data, however.
Official data suggests that hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity have surged over the past few years.
However, it is unclear how much of the rise is down to an increase in attacks, compared to improved compliance with reporting.
Pride in London carried out research on hate crimes last year – finding that 42% of LGBT Londoners believe they have been a victim of hate crime in the last 12 months.
Even more fear they will be targeted, with 68% saying they worry about being victim of hate crime.
The figures are double that of the population at large, with 18% of UK adults saying they have been a hate crime victim.
Pride in London co-chairs, Alison Camps and Michael Salter-Church, said: “Reported hate crime is the tip of the iceberg.
“As a community, LGBT+ people face all kinds of daily ‘micro-aggressions’.
“From having to explain that as a same-sex couple you do want a double room in a hotel, to being frowned at for holding your partner’s hand in the street.
“For a brief time we’re highlighting this across London to raise awareness of the issue.”
Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer lead for combating hate crime said lack of reporting is one of the biggest issues for clamping down on hate crimes.
He said: “The Metropolitan Police is committed to supporting the LGBT+ community and we welcome Pride in London’s campaign that aims to encourage victims of hate crime to come forward and report it.
“Only through better reporting can we better understand the issue, offer support to those who need it, and tackle the root cause in our communities.
“We take hate crime very seriously and would appeal to anyone who witnesses or suffers any hate of any type to immediately report it so that action can quickly be taken and catch those who are responsible.”
Nik Noone, CEO of Galop added: “Hate crime isn’t just something that happens at night in the street; 60% of incidents reported to Galop happen in or near people’s homes.
“Many LGBT+ people, especially trans people, experience hate incidents on a regular basis.
“Hate crime victim satisfaction rates are lower than for other types of crime.
“Trans people especially report bad experiences with the police and criminal justice system, and some use non-reporting as a strategy to protect information about their identity from being shared without consent.”
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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently called for a zero tolerance attitude to hate crime in London.
Speaking at the PinkNews Awards, he said: “Let me be clear, hate crime will not be tolerated anywhere in London. In London, you are free to be whoever you are happy, and safe.
“London is a warm, inclusive and welcoming place, and I’m grateful for all of your support over the last 16 months, not for me, but for all of us.
“London is open to all people regardless of race, gender and sexuality and open to love.”
Speaking to PinkNews, he added: “If you choose to live in one the most diverse cities in the world, you’ve got to accept people are different sexuality, different faiths, different ethnicities and different socioeconomic backgrounds.
“That, for me, is why we are the best city in the world – but we could be better.
“For me it’s a badge of shame – that in spite of the progress that we have made over the last 20, 30 years if you’re a Londoner who happens to be LGBT, you make yourself vulnerable to hate crime.”