Hate crimes have a devastating effect on victims, who often feel unable to speak out about what has happened to them. It can take a wide variety of forms, from verbal and physical abuse to discrimination in the workplace.
Historically, these communities have felt unable to come forward due to the stigma in society and the lack of support or empathy from those in authority. However, in the United Kingdom, things have changed. It is now illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual or gender identity, and it’s a crime if someone is deliberately targeted because of their sexuality or gender.
Hate Crime generally can be defined as any illegal act that any person recognises to be motivated by hostility or prejudices towards a feature of an individual’s identity.
Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic Hate Crimes are personally motivated by prejudice towards lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals. Whilst the impact can be devastating to the victim, the scars are not always visible from the outside.
After watching a football match at a local pub, a friend and I went to grab a pizza; en route, we were confronted by a guy with a big dog. He had noticed my friend’s keyring that clearly highlighted her as a lesbian. He took offence very quickly and assumed that we were a couple.
It started off verbally with him saying all sorts of nasty homophobic things, but before we knew it this escalated to being extremely physical. He grabbed my friend by the throat and had her up against the wall repeatedly punching her in the side of the face. I was able to pull him off her – at which he pushed me aside and spat at me, again shouting out homophobic slurs.
I wanted something to be done. The police were called and I pressed charges. I went to court and gave evidence – and in the end the guy was found guilty.
However, the effects didn’t end there. Both my friend and I were very nervous when walking down that street and it took a long time for us to do this, but eventually we overcame it.
It was a nasty incident and I hate to think that people are treated this way. I would urge anyone who has been a victim of this type of crime to come forward and report it – it’s the only way that we can show the world that this behaviour is unacceptable.
According to the UK Government, Hate Crime in 2015/16 rose by 19% year-on-year, and 13% of all reports of Hate Crime were related to sexual orientation or transgender.
16% of reports received through the Crimestoppers anonymous reporting line on Hate Crime since January 2017 were on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic Hate Crimes.
In conjunction with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (#IDAHOT) we are looking to raise awareness of these three types of Hate Crimes. May 17th is a day for “World Wide Celebration of Sexual and Gender Diversities”, according to IDAHOT.
This international day is designed to focus the minds of those in power – legislators, the media and public sector workers, to name but a few – to the alarming situation faced by lesbians, gay, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people. It recognises the importance of human rights for all, irrespective of sexual orientation, or gender identity/expression.
Stonewall, LGBTQI civil rights lobbyists, have provided this very helpful and informative document to help answer why someone should report homophobic, transphobic or biphobic Hate Crimes. Click here to view it.