We’re only weeks into the new year and sadly we’ve already seen multiple horrific hate crimes across the UK.
Last week in London a gay man was doused in bleach whilst homophobic abuse was screamed at him, and another was attacked just meters from his workplace. Both men are now fine after receiving medical treatment, but how many more need to be attacked before the government takes this seriously?
There were nearly 40 hate crimes a day based on sexual orientation between 2018-2019 in England and Wales. Shockingly, anti LGBTQ+ hate crimes have rocketed 160% over the last five years while trans attacks have quadrupled.
It’s hard not to feel like we’re going backwards. Far too many LGBTQ+ people live in fear, afraid to go out, hold their partners hands or socialise at night. Many avoid certain parts of their city/town and transport lines through fear of being attacked.
I know that fear myself, I was attacked in Walthamstow two years ago and it had long lasting affects. Now I constantly look over my shoulder and don’t feel comfortable walking on my own. For a long time it stopped me from going out in the evening at at all. That’s no way to live. We shouldn’t have to be afraid or change who we are just to be safe.
What can we do
First things first, please take care when you’re out and about, especially if you’re alone. If you see someone being bothered only intervene if it’s safe to do so. Don’t hesitate to call for help if you need it.
Please try and report every single incident. I know it’s not always easy and doesn’t feel like it will do much good. But the more people that report incidents, the higher chance they’ll be caught. It might even prevent it from happening to someone else.
According to Stonewall, 81% of people didn’t report incidents to police for various reasons. As a community we need to look at why people aren’t reporting issues. It’s vital we rebuilt the trust with law enforcement agencies to make progress.
Something we can all do is contact our MP’s and representatives asking them to look into the rise of LGBTQ+ hate crime. The more people we have talking about it and asking questions, the more the government will take notice.
Most importantly, support each other. When you notice someone has been affected by a hate crime, try and reach out to them. I always ask if they’ve reported it to the police, but try not to pressurise just reassure them you’re there.
No room for hate
The world is constantly changing and the political landscape is no different. We live in an age where politicians, celebrities and public figures are given platforms to use inflammatory language which can have a ripple effect empowering others.
Even our Prime Minister has used homophobic and racist language (countless times) but still refuses to apologise. If Boris Johnson didn’t take accountability, how are we supposed to get others to?
Stop telling us you’re an LGBTQ+ ally and actually prove it.
If people don’t start to see that hateful and divisive language has a direct affect on hate crimes, this situation will only get worse. What we say matters and when people are given a platform to spout hate against a community, it only ends badly.
I call upon the government to make LGBTQ+ hate crimes an aggravated assault in line with racial and religious hate.
The government needs to send a loud and clear message that hate crimes against people based on their identity or sexuality won’t be tolerated in any shape or form and they will be punished with the full force of the law.
It’s also time for editors, producers and bookers to stop hiring outright bigots for entertainment. It’s no longer acceptable to debate our existence on TV or use our issues as bait, not that it ever was.
Follow Tom on Twitter – @TJ_Knight