Charity wins £57,000 for LGBT hate crime victims to meet attackers
The charity Why me? Victims for Restorative Justice received £57,000 from the City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, to support LGBT+ victims of hate crime.
The national charity champions the process of restorative justice, which gives victims of hate crime the choice to meet their convicted offenders and explain the impact of their actions.
The charity said it helps arranging the meetings under “carefully managed conditions” and will use the funds to further develop the services dedicated to those in the LGBT+ community who have been victims of hate crime.
“It’s clear from the many stories of those that have been through restorative justice that it has many benefits.”
— Alison Gowman
Why me? charity will also use the funds to raise awareness of restorative justice within the criminal justice sector with police, probation officers and victim support groups.
“At a time when hate crime has sharply risen and the criminal justice system is struggling to deal with the impact, restorative justice is a quietly radical and effective means of addressing these issues,” Why me? charity director Lucy Jaffe said in a statement.
She added: “We will be seeking to work in partnership with equality organisations operating in London to spread awareness and understanding of restorative justice and to trial and learn about practical ways that restorative approaches can work to support LGBTQ+ victims of hate crime.”
Restorative justice can help victims of hate crime find closure
In November, former Wales rugby player Gareth Thomas opted for the restorative justice process after he was targeted in a homophobic attack.
The sportsman, who came out in 2009 and has been a champion of LGBT+ rights, explained he wanted to give the teenager offender the opportunity to learn from the sad incident.
“Why I want it to be positive: I want to say thank you to the police, who were involved and allowed me to do restorative justice to the people that did this because I thought they could learn more that way,” Thomas said in a statement at the time.
Other LGBT+ victims of hate crime think the restorative justice process may be helpful in finding closure.
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Sam Duffy was allegedly punched in the face at a London pub in August by a man who targeted him for being gay.
While his alleged attacker has yet to be charged, Duffy told PinkNews he can see the benefits of the restorative justice system.
“I think it would be useful to offer a sense of closure. Myself and I’m sure many other victims often wonder more and more of why they were attacked,” Duffy said, adding: “I would like to have spoken to my attacker to ask him “why”. Does he hate gays? Do LGBT+ people offend him? Does he know someone’s more then just their sexuality or gender?”
Alison Gowman, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said the charity’s work with victims of hate crime will help increase quality of life in the British capital.
“It’s clear from the many stories of those that have been through restorative justice that it has many benefits and can be a really effective aid in the recovery process for survivors of crime,” she said, adding: “Tackling disadvantage across the capital is essential to make London a fairer and better place to live.”