The unwelcome statistics on homophobic crimes which have been widely reported in the press show a significant rise in LGBT hate crimes with such crimes doubling between 2013-14 and 2017-18 with a continuing trend towards crimes of violence from common assault to the more serious grievous bodily harm. This pattern of homophobic attack is reported by police forces from all corners of the country.
Many people involved with the LGBT community believe that the current figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Verbal attacks involving aggressive homophobic comments and threats are becoming more prevalent and online trolling is increasing. Laura Russell, the director of campaigns policy and research at Stonewall, pointed out that the rise in hate crimes clearly shows there was a long way to go before the LGBT community was accepted in British society. Laura commented: “we are still not living in a society where every LGBT person is able to achieve their potential and not have to live in fear of physical or verbal violence for being who they are.”
Lee Broadstock, the secretary of the national LGBT police network, believes that the rise in this crime is at least in part to members of the LGBT community coming forward and reporting incidents that previously they would not have done so. Lee commented: “we have seen an increase in confidence in victims to report it to us and I think that’s where that increase has come from. “We have improved confidence of people to report, but they are reporting some of the lower-level incidents, some of the shouting in the streets, a lot of the online hate is being reported to us. “Some things are proving a lot more difficult for us to take forward, especially with online hate, such as on Twitter … It’s very difficult to get that user account from Twitter because it’s based in the US so it’s very difficult for us to prosecute.”
The rise in homophobic crime is seen across the globe with France reporting a sharp rise in such crime, SOS Homophobie, an LGBT support organisation that allows individuals to report attacks anonymously revealing a shocking 66% rise in complaints during 2018. Israel’s ynetnews.com announced a rise of 54% in homophobic cases during 2018. The FBI have recorded a rise in homophobic hate crime in the US and in Poland the political climate is decidedly anti-LGBT, the Law and Justice party leader commented that LGBT people are “a threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state.” Some Polish cities are planning to introduce LGBT-free zones.
Whilst is it agreed that the crimes are increasing this is not matched by a similar rise in successful prosecutions. Prosecution for online abuse is notoriously difficult to pursue, in some part due to the fact that the platforms are not based in the UK and in any case some of the platforms have shown a marked lack of appetite to restrain their members comments and drag their feet when a request for the removal of an offensive post is made and protect the individual who created it.
The pressure on the authorities to root out this type of crime must be maintained, many people who are coming forward now have been subjected to prolonged maltreatment, Gay Lawyers fully understands that to have to expose the level and the nature of some types of homophobic abuse is extremely difficult, particularly if the environment is not sympathetic; it often takes some time to find the confidence to do so.
Nobody should suffer abuse for being who they are, our lawyers in Gay Lawyers have an enviable reputation for success when confronting workplace abuse and obtaining compensation on behalf of our clients.