Fear of how they will be treated is leading to thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) not reporting hate crimes.
AS a result perpetrators are evading justice, a new report published today reveals.
Evidence suggests around 35,000 cases of hate crime committed against people because of their sexual orientation go unreported every year. The work, supported by GB governments and produced for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), found that 88 per cent of LGB and T people had experienced some form of hate incident leaving them with emotional and physical scars.
Yet research conducted by the University of Leicester’s Centre for Hate Studies found only 14 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual victims reported their most recent experience of hate crime to the police.
Evidence shows that while victims of transphobia can be targeted up to 50 times in one year, only three in ten report the incident.
The launch of the report coincides with a major new campaign to raise awareness of LGBT hate crime by a partnership of 31 organisations, funded by the EHRC.
With the message of ‘Recognise it. Report it.’ it is hoped the campaign will empower LGBT people to stand up against hate crime through education and training as well as establishing local partnerships.
Led by the LGBT Consortium, this is the first time that groups from across England and Wales have come together to tackle hate crime, with a focus on rural communities where reporting is especially low.
Paul Roberts, Chief Executive of the LGBT Consortium, said: “LGBT communities are already working with the police to remove barriers to reporting, and offer practical and emotional support. However, too often, LGBT people don’t know they are experiencing hate crime or just shrug it off.
“Collectively, we are saying it is time to move on from this. Our message today is recognise hate crime when it happens, report it, and get support when you need it.”
Figures highlighted in the report include:
♦ Only 4,267 incidents were recorded by police in 2013, despite the Crime Survey for England and Wales showing 39,000 homophobic hate incidents over the same period. That’s nine times higher than the reported figure
♦ Eight in ten LGB people have been verbally abused or harassed and one in ten have been physically assaulted
♦ One in eight LGB people had received unwanted sexual contact
The report lists a variety of reasons for under-reporting including the ‘normalisation’ of hate incidents, concern about wasting police time, fears about being outed and previous negative experiences with the police.
Equality and Human Rights Commissioner Evelyn Asante-Mensah, said: “Pride season is upon us and it seems an opportune moment to reflect on the great steps made towards equality, while also realising that LGBT communities still have to live with severe forms of discrimination and prejudice.
“Just as the Commission is doing with disability hate crime, we need to bring this problem into the open and create a culture where victims are confident to come forward and society confronts all forms of abuse.”
The report makes a series of recommendations to tackle the issues surrounding reporting of hate crimes.
♦ Increased community outreach by police to build trust with LGBT communities
♦ An increase in third-party reporting systems were needed;
♦ Increasing awareness of how and where to report hate crime and looking at what can be learned from the reporting of other types of hate crime.
Galop, a specialist LGBT anti-violence charity, has joined the year-long anti-hate crime initiative as one of the lead delivery partners.
Their Chief Executive, Nik Noone, said:“It is not acceptable that people go so long without support and assistance, so I am pleased that the EHRC is steadfastly behind our partnership’s work to build strong local community responses to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in every village, town and city.”
Report author, Dr Stevie-Jade Hardy, a lecturer at the University of Leicester’s Centre for Hate Studies, said:“Hate crimes are a routine, and mostly unreported feature of many LGBT people’s daily lives.
“Simply expecting victims to report without taking meaningful action to dismantle perceived and actual barriers is futile, particularly when the evidence shows that many have little confidence in the capacity of authorities to act empathetically or effectively.”
The Commission is also funding the UK’s only 24/7 nationwide LGBT hate crime helpline, run by Stop Hate UK : Telephone: 0808 801 0661.
Other regional helplines can be found at www.lgbthatecrime.org.uk
For local advice, telephone: 01273 231189