The number of homophobic attacks reported to police leapt by nearly a quarter last year, Home Office figures have revealed.
Forces in England and Wales recorded 5,597 hate crimes against gays and lesbians in 2014-15, a rise of 22 per cent on the previous 12 months. The spike in violence and abuse based on victims’ sexual orientation emerged in statistics revealing a continued rise in offences which are classified as “hate crimes”.
Police recorded 52,528 such offences, more than 80 per cent of which were believed to be motivated by racial prejudice. However, the actual scale of hate crime is likely to be far higher as only about one in four offences is thought to be reported to police.
Although some of the increase could be explained by victims being more willing to come forward, David Cameron described the latest figures as unacceptable and said more needed to be done to fight hate crime.
A spokesperson for the gay rights group Stonewall said that it was a sign of progress that victims were more willing to go the police. But she added: “It’s shocking that in 2015 many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people still face violence, intimidation and threats simply because of who they are. These figures show there is still much work to do before everyone is accepted without exception.”
Richard Smith, of the National LGBT Hate Crime Partnership, said: “Generally, people are more confident in coming forward. But the numbers reported are a tiny fraction of the [incidents] there actually are.” Overall, there was a 15 per cent increase in reports of racially motivated crime, a 43 per cent rise in religious-motivated crime and a 25 per cent increase in hate crime targeting the disabled. Hate crimes involving those with transgender identity went up by 9 per cent.
The Prime Minister has announced that anti-Muslim offences are to be recorded by police as a separate category for the first time. His move follows figures indicating that Muslims are more likely than members of other faith groups to be targeted in religiously-motivated crimes.
Lucy Hastings, director of the charity Victim Support, said: “Hate crime is malicious and often violent, targeting victims simply for being who they are.”
Andy Cole, the campaigns director of Leonard Cheshire Disability, said the surge in hate crime against the disabled was particularly shocking.
“As well as the terrible immediate impact of violence and harassment, too often hate crime leaves disabled people isolated and vulnerable, living in fear, and cut off from their family and friends because of the ongoing threat of violence and retaliation,” he said.
Four thugs attacked me
Adam Senior, a 21-year-old from Stockport, received head and face injuries in an unprovoked attack in Manchester’s “Gay Village”. He is certain he was targeted because of his sexuality.
I was just walking home from meeting some friends to get a taxi and these four Irish lads came out of nowhere and attacked me,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “I just remember being knocked out. The next thing I knew I was on the floor surrounded by paramedics. I think it’s a homophobic attack. I feel I have been beaten up because I am gay. I think they’ve seen a gay lad standing on his own and done this.”
LGBT rights across the globe
LGBT rights across the globe
Russia’s antipathy towards homosexuality has been well established following the efforts of human rights campaigners. However, while it is legal to be homosexual, LGBT couples are offered no protections from discrimination. They are also actively discriminated against by a 2013 law criminalising LGBT “propaganda” allowing the arrest of numerous Russian LGBT activists. (Picture: Riot police hold an LGBT activist during a Moscow rall.)
Men who are found having sex with other men face stoning, while lesbians can be imprisoned, under Sharia law. However, the state has not reportedly executed anyone for this ‘crime’ since 1987. (Picture: Chinguetti Mosque, Mauritania.)
3/7 Saudi Arabia
Homosexuality and transgender is illegal and punishable by the death penalty, imprisonment, corporal punishment, whipping and chemical castration. (Picture: The emblem of Saudi Arabia above the embassy in London.)
Bruno Vincent/Getty Images
The official position within the country is that there are no gays. LGBT inviduals, if discovered by the government, are likely to face intense pressure. Punishments range from flogging to the death penalty. (Picture: Yemen's southern port of Aden.)
Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal and in some northern states punishable with death by stoning. This is not a policy enacted across the entire country, although there is a prevalent anti-LGBT agenda pushed by the government. In 2007 a Pew survey established that 97 per cent of the population felt that homosexuality should not be accepted. It is publishable by 14 years in prison. (Picture: The northern Nigerian town of Damasak.)
Homosexuality was established as a crime in 1888 and under new Somali Penal Code established in 1973 homosexual sex can be punishable by three years in prison. (Picture: Families use a boat to cross a flooded Shebelle River, in Jowhar.)
Although same-sex relationships have been decriminalised, much of the population still suffer from intense discrimination. Additionally, in some of the country over-run by the extremist organisation Isis, LGBT individuals can face death by stoning. (Picture: Purported Isis fighters in Iraq.)