Rise in Homophobic Crime

No Bystanders Posters
19 UK police forces, including Scotland Yard and Greater Manchester Police, have recorded a rise in the number of homophobic crimes.

And other forces look set to either equal or surpass last year's figures by the end of the 2014. The Express and Star website highlight that between January and October 2014 there were 170 homophobic crimes were reported to West Midlands police alone.

The Guardian reported that Scotland Yard has recorded 1,073 violent homophobic offences between January and October, up from 1,007 in 2013 and 1,002 in 2012.

Despite same-sex marriage becoming law in England and Wales (Scotland in December), it's obvious that homophobia is continuing to ruin the lives of lesbian and gay people across the UK.

Of course, it might not necessarily follow that homophobic crime has risen. It could be that more people are reporting homophobic crime either as a victim or as a witness. Increased education, greater public awareness of gay issues and successful LGBT campaigns have all contributed to the normalisation of same-sex relationships.

Whatever these particular statistics mean it's clear that homophobia still exists. The cases that do make it to the police are not representative of all homophobic crime, because there's no way of knowing how many incidents go unreported.

In 2013, Stonewall asked over 2,500 lesbian and gay couples about their experiences of homophobia. They found that almost 50% of lesbian, gay or bi-sexual people had, at some point or another, been victim of a homophobic crime or incident.

Bigotry, whether based on gender, race, class or sexuality, is often driven by fear and ignorance. Effective campaigning has already done so much to normalise gay relationships, but there's still much to be done. LGBT education in school, in workplaces and public forums are key to undoing the insidious bigotry that continues to undermine tolerant society.  It isn't just about making this an LGBT issue either, it's about making everyone accountable for ending homophobia. It's why Stonewall's no bystander campaigner is so important.

It'll be interesting to see the end of year statistics.

You can check out Stonewall's new guide that looks at coping with, reporting and tacking hate crime across the country. You can find the guide here

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