UK

Anti-LGBT+ hate crime is spiralling across Britain, worrying police figures confirm

Emma Powys Maurice October 11, 2021
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A protester at an LGBT+ hate crime demonstration in Spain this summer (Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty)

The number of homophobic hate crime reports in the UK has tripled and the number of transphobic hate crime reports has quadrupled over the last six years, shocking new figures reveal.

Data obtained by Vice World News shows there were 6,363 reports of hate crimes based on sexual orientation in 2014-15, the year same-sex weddings became legal in the UK, compared to 19,679 in 2020-21 – a total increase of 210 per cent.

For reports of transphobic hate crimes, there were 598 in 2014-15 and 2,588 in 2020-21, representing a rise of 332 per cent.

Only ten out of the 45 UK police forces recorded a decrease in hate crime, and the vast majority of those who provided data had seen a year-on-year rise in hate crime reports since 2014.

Among them were Liverpool’s Merseyside Police, which has been battling a wave of homophobic attacks in the city this year. Back in 2014-2015 the hate crime reports numbered just 64; in 2020-21 this figure soared to 834.

Leni Morris, chief executive of Galop, the UK’s LGBT+ anti-abuse charity, said she wasn’t surprised that hate crime reports went up during the lockdown period.

“Right from the beginning of the pandemic, we saw the impact that lockdown was having on the escalation in violence and abuse against our community,” she told Vice.

“We saw LGBT+ people targeted as a direct result of the pandemic – either because the pandemic was seen as a punishment for our existence, or because of our community’s association with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and a notion that LGBT+ people were somehow at the root of this pandemic.”

“What we do know for sure, from the UK government’s own figures, is that 90 per cent of hate crimes against LGBT+ people go unreported, so these figures only represent a tiny part of the overall amount of abuse and violence faced by the LGBT+ community in the UK today.”

This rise in hate crimes has been accompanied by a sharp uptick in the demand for the services of Victim Support, an independent charity which provides specialist, confidential help for victims of crime in England and Wales.

Victim Support says overall requests for help have jumped by almost 11 per cent in the past 12 months, with calls relating to transphobic attacks surging by a shocking 45 per cent.

This is significantly higher than the 22 per cent increase in the number of people seeking help for disability hate crimes, and a 20 per cent increase in sexual orientation-related crimes.

An “overwhelming majority” of hate crimes recorded by the charity were race and nationality-related (71 per cent), with Victim Support noting a spike in referrals to its services following the Euro 2020 final in July.

“It is both concerning and disheartening that our figures reflect this significant increase in hate crimes across the country,” said Diana Fawcett, Victim Support’s chief executive, as reported by the Independent.

“We are alarmed to see that the number of victims seeking support for race and nationality-related hate remains high, and we strongly condemn all types of racist abuse.

“It’s also worrying that there has been a huge jump in the number of people seeking support for disability, homophobic and transgender-identity related hate crimes, which we’ve seen have a damaging effect on the victim’s sense of safety, well-being and self-worth.”

The rising hate crime rates were confirmed earlier this month by the investigative journalism unit Liberty Investigates, which also found that forces across England and Wales had resolved fewer cases in 2020 than five years ago.

In 2020 only 14 per cent of cases resulted in a conclusive outcome such as a caution, charge, summons, penalty notice or community resolution – half the rate of 28 per cent seen five years earlier.

“These findings are extremely concerning,” said Nadia Whittome MP, who previously worked as a hate crime project officer at the non-profit social enterprise Communities Inc.

“I am not surprised that people withdraw from the police and criminal system, given how negative an experience many people from marginalised groups have had. However, the scale of withdrawals and lack of justice represents an institutional failure of hate crime victims.”

Dame Vera Baird QC, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, said police had failed victims.

“It is shocking that police are clearly so unresponsive to this. If people are gaining the confidence to go to the police, only to be left lying by the wayside, there can’t be a clearer failure.”

Related topics: Hate crime

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