Stonewall report reveals one in five gay people victim of hate crime

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith today tasked the Ministerial Action Group on Violence to address homophobic hate crime in the light of disturbing new findings from major new research. The first statistically significant national survey of its kind, commissioned by Stonewall from YouGov, reveals the extent of abuse facing many of Britain’s 3.6 million lesbian and gay people on a daily basis. One in five have been a victim of one or more homophobic hate crimes in the last three years. However three in four don’t report such incidents to the police, many believing that no action will follow. The incidents ranged from harassment to serious physical and sexual assaults.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive, said: ‘It’s entirely unacceptable in 2008 that anyone should live in fear of attack and abuse simply because of who they are. This evidence is a scar on the face of a modern nation. Stonewall welcomes the Home Secretary’s prompt response to these deeply concerning findings. We look forward to working with the criminal justice system to ensure homophobic hate crimes are reported with more confidence, and the perpetrators brought to justice.’

Stonewall determined to carry out the research, which was supported by the Home Office, after the conviction of two men for the homophobic murder of Jody Dobrowski in June 2006. The British Crime Survey currently fails to identify or quantify homophobic crime.   

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith today welcomed the recommendations accompanying the report. She said: ‘In the 21st century no one in Britain should ever feel under threat of verbal or physical violence just because of their sexual orientation. We’re determined that lesbian and gay people should have the confidence to report crimes to the police knowing that they will be taken seriously, the crime investigated and their privacy respected. Our key priorities are to increase reporting; increase offences brought to justice and to tackle repeat victimisation and hotspots.’

Mike Cunningham, an ACPO lead on gay equality and Deputy Chief Constable of Lancashire, said: ‘The statistics speak for themselves. It cannot be acceptable that a third of victims do not report incidents to the police because they do not think the police would, or could, do anything about it. Neither is it right that two thirds of those who reported incidents to the police were not offered or referred to advice or support services.
‘The findings offer the service a real opportunity to make real improvements both in terms of how homophobic incidents are dealt with but also in terms of raising people’s confidence in reporting these incidents in the first place.’

YouGov surveyed 1,721 gay and lesbian people across Britain between 29 February and 4 March. Asked about their experiences and fear of homophobic hate crime:

Only one per cent of all victims report that the hate crime or incident resulted in a conviction. A third of victims did not report incidents to the police because they did not think the police would or could do anything about it.Two thirds of those who reported incidents to the police were not offered or referred to advice or support services. 
Respondents in London were more likely to alter their behavior so as not to be identified as gay, in order to escape attack and abuse, than in any other area of Britain. They were also more likely to say they fell victim to homophobic hate crime because of where they were, such as near a gay venue, – with 40 per cent saying so – than anywhere else in Britain.
The report’s ten key recommendations include encouraging police to improve the recording of homophobic hate incidents and help lesbian and gay people to report them. The report also recommends tackling homophobic bullying in schools and the workplace in order to help reduce the likelihood of homophobic incidents on the streets. 

Recently reported in the press two men were jailed for life with a minimum term of 28 years for the homophobic murder of barman Jody Dobrowski. His  mother Sheri said: ‘Jody was not the first man to be killed, or terrorised, or beaten or humiliated for being homosexual – or for being perceived to be homosexual. Tragically, he will not be the last man to suffer the consequences of homophobia, which is endemic in this society. We cannot accept this. No intelligent, healthy or reasonable society could.’    


Posted by Asif Yusuf

Publisher of Diversity Link



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