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Queer people are being forced off social media by trolling and online abuse, searingly obvious report confirms

Lily Wakefield February 14, 2020
online abuse

Trans victims were more likely to suffer emotionally as a result of online victimisation, and particularly noted abuse by transphobic activists. (Envato)

Queer people are being forced off social media by trolling and online abuse, a report by LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop has confirmed. 

The charity’s 2020 Online Hate Crime Report surveyed 700 LGBT+ people from across the UK and found that eight out of ten had experienced online abuse. 

Among those targeted, six in ten were threatened with physical violence and four in ten had received death threats or threats of sexual violence.

Half of them had experienced the online attacks more than 20 times, and one in five had been the victims of more than 100 incidents.

In response to the online abuse, two in five LGBT+ people used their social media accounts less, and one in five either removed LGBT+ information or deleted their accounts altogether.

Less than one in 10 reported the incidents to the police, and less than half flagged the abuse with social media platforms. More than a quarter did not report the online abuse to anybody.

Nick Antjoule, head of hate crime services at Galop said: “Despite progress on LGBT+ rights, online platforms remain hostile environments for many LGBT+ people. This report offers a sobering reminder of the harms caused by online hate.

“It targets individuals, poisons social discourse and limits opportunities to live open and fulfilled lives.

“At Galop we value free speech. It is a cornerstone of our society that allows oppressed groups to speak up for our rights, even when we are considered dangerous, immoral or illegal.

“However, free speech is increasingly used as a fig leaf to legitimise hatred. To remedy that we hope this report will spur urgent action to create practical, legal, regulatory frameworks to tackle online hate and support those targeted.”

The LGBT+ targets of online abuse told Galop the experience had a negative impact on their mental health, with victims reporting fear, anxiety, self-blame, and suicidal thoughts.

Trans victims were more likely to suffer emotionally as a result of online victimisation, and particularly noted abuse by transphobic activists.

One trans victim said: “TERF hate speech is pretty constant. They tend to be very proactive in pushing hate speech and trying to prevent trans people from having acceptance, human rights and access to treatment.”

Another said: “As a trans woman online, radical feminists have called me (and often all trans women) rapists and paedophiles hundreds of times.

“The worst incidents involved threats to report me to the police on fabricated charges as ‘a man and a rapist’.”

On the same day as the Galop report was released, trans author Juno Dawson announced that she would be taking a break from Twitter.

She wrote: “I’m going to delete Twitter off my phone for a while. The constant discourse around trans people is affecting my mental health quite badly and it’s especially loud on here.”

This week, a trans woman who was called a “racist” and a “pig in a wig” during a campaign of online abuse, won her case against Kate Scottow, the woman who targeted her.

More: Galop, hate crimes, Juno Dawson, mental health, online abuse, trolling

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