Amnesty LGBTI: National Hate Crime Awareness Week

By Daniel Theophanous

“I was assaulted by a man whilst I was holding hands with my lesbian partner. He grabbed me from behind and thrust himself into me, then verbally attacked me.” 
- Freya, 21, Wales

“Someone described their intention to slit my throat and kill me. They went on to say no court would convict them for killing 'the queer bait'.” 
- Ava, 56, London

“I was spat on outside a gay club at Pride 2016.” 
- Ellie, 20, Scotland

“I am a trans man and I have been stalked for over two years now from an unknown person. During this time, I have received anonymous threatening letters. I've had two letters containing razor blades, one which contained a toxic substance which burnt my hands, face and eye. I have been beaten up three times.” 
- James, 47, South East

The above accounts are only a tiny fraction of the all too real and sadly all too frequent experiences faced by LGBTI people across the UK. As part of the National Hate Crime Awareness Week (NHCAW), which takes place between 14 and 21 October 2017, Amnesty LGBTI is making efforts to shed light on the situation, and help implement measures to hopefully minimise hate crimes based on LGTBI discrimination.

NHCAW was set up in 2009 to mark the 10th anniversary of three London Nail Bomb attacks. In the same year, a gay man Ian Baynham suffered a homophobic attack in London which put him in a coma for four weeks to his eventual passing after succumbing to his injuries. 

This tragic episode spurred on Healey and Parkins to organise a vigil against hate crime with the aim to bring people together, stand up for those affected and to encourage local police forces and councils to work alongside key affected partners and communities to tackle hate crime.

In 2017 a study by Stonewall on hate crimes showed that in 2017 there has been a 78% increase from 2013 in the number of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals experiencing hate crime. What’s more, 41% of transgendered individuals that took part in the survey claim to have been victimised due to their gender identity.

5,000 LGBTI people were interviewed across England, Scotland and Wales. Participants were asked about their life in Britain today, specifically focusing in on their experiences of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crimes and day-to-day discrimination. The findings paint a rather bleak, if eye-opening picture which details the frequency of these hate crime, but also the low numbers of such incidences being reported to the police.

The discoveries the study made include: 

  1. One in five LGBT people (21%) have experienced a hate crime or incident due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months.
  2. Two in five trans people (41%) have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months and one in six LGB people who aren’t trans (16%) have experienced a hate crime or incident due to their sexual orientation in the same period.
  3. The number of lesbian, gay and bisexual people who have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last year because of their sexual orientation has risen by 78% from 9% in 2013 to 16% in 2017.
  4. Four in five LGBT people (81%) who experienced a hate crime or incident didn't report it to the police.
  5. Three in 10 LGBT people (29%) avoid certain streets because they do not feel safe there as an LGBT person.
  6. More than a third of LGBT people (36%) say they don’t feel comfortable walking down the street while holding their partner's hand. This increases to three in five gay men (58%).
  7. One in 10 LGBT people (10%) have experienced homophobic, biphobic or transphobic abuse online directed towards them personally in the last month. This number increases to one in four for trans people (26%) directly experiencing transphobic abuse online in the last month.

The full report can be found here

Stonewall’s study as well as findings from the NHCAW reveal that hate crimes among LGBT are hugely under-reported and inadequately dealt with by authorities. A majority of trans women experience incidences on a repetitive basis, but lack the confidence to report them, because the criminal justice system brings additional trauma and frustration. 

Elsewhere, gay rights campaigners have expressed concerns that in religious, closely tight communities, politicians and faith community leaders continue to reinforce prejudice attitudes towards gay people, creating a climate where homophobic hostility can prevail.

Amnesty encourages all LGBTI people to report all hate crimes in real life but also online. The overall banner of causes for hate crimes include all acts that are committed against someone because of their disability, gender-identity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation. These violent behaviours consist of:

  • Threatening behaviour
  • Assault
  • Robbery
  • Damage to property
  • Inciting others to commit hate crimes
  • Harassment
  • If you are victim of a hate crime, or witness one committed against someone else, you should report this to the police.

In case of emergency always dial 999. If it is not an emergency you can report hate crimes by calling 101, contacting your local police, or by reporting online.

Hate crimes cause lasting physical and emotional damage to the victim. They evoke a multitude of negative feelings such as despair, anger, victimisation, fear as well total mistrust in communities, thus weakening the social glue that binds a society together. 

It is important that authorities across the UK do more to tackle hate crimes and engage proactively with their LGBT communities. Police should be adequately trained in how to identify hate crime, respond to it and support victims appropriately. Online anti-LGBT abuse when observed should also be called out and reported when it’s safe to do so. 

Amnesty fully supports that there should be an extensive review of the hate crime legal framework within the UK to assess whether the current system meets the needs of hate crime victims.

For reporting hate crime you can contact:

Stonewall’s Information Service on 08000 50 20 20 for advice and support, as well as the Stonewall website

National Hate Crime Week.
 

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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