Figures reveal a 'shocking' rise in homophobic hate crimes

Forces recorded 5,597 hate crimes against gays and lesbians in 2014-15, a rise of 22 per cent

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. 

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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.”