Homophobia: the forgotten hate crime

New report says that the abuse and violence suffered by lesbians and gay men is on the rise

Michael Causer's only crime was to be openly gay. For this the trainee hairdresser was dragged from his bed last July and viciously beaten. His piercings were forcibly removed with a knife, according to some witnesses. He died nine days later in hospital from brain injuries.

Tomorrow James O'Connor, 19, will be sentenced after admitting the murder of the 18-year-old in Liverpool, in a case which, campaigners say, illustrates a rising and little-reported tide of homophobia in Britain.

New research to be published next week reveals widespread anecdotal evidence that gay and lesbian people experience severe daily harassment and abuse which they do not report to the police. The survey shows that, although society's attitude towards gay and lesbian people appears to be more tolerant, bubbling beneath the surface, and often unreported, is a stream of abuse and harassment.

Earlier this month, Gerald Edwards, 59, was stabbed to death in the home in Bromley, Kent, that he shared with his partner, Chris Bevan, who was seriously injured in what police believe was a homophobic attack.

Next week's report, published by the charity Galop, the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence and Policing Group and the Metropolitan Police, found that homophobic hate crime is seriously under-reported, partly because of out-of-date contact numbers and addresses, but also because of fears of reprisals and a belief that the police don't take them seriously.

But those incidents that are reported to lesbian and gay groups can take place in daylight, often feature casual violence and verbal abuse, and frequently take the form of persistent bullying from neighbours. Researchers found that nearly half of all victims reporting to lesbian and gay organisations knew their aggressor.

Over a quarter of all incidents involved physical violence. Figures from the Met show that in the last year reported homophobic hate crime in London has risen by more than 5 per cent, from 1,008 to 1,062 incidents. London's gay and lesbian population is thought to stand at around 750,000.

National figures on homophobic incidents are not collected by the Home Office, however. A survey by Stonewall, the gay rights charity, published last year found that one in five gay people had been the victim of a hate crime in the last three years.

Stonewall also published a report earlier this month which revealed a "deeply alarming" amount of homophobia in schools. The report is the largest survey of both primary and secondary schoolteachers on the issue of homophobic bullying.

Called The Teachers' Report, it showed that around 150,000 pupils are affected by anti-gay bullying. Not only are children who are thought to be gay victims of name-calling and abuse, but pupils are picked out because they are boys who work hard or girls who play sport or because they have gay parents.

Nine in 10 secondary school teachers and two in five primary school teachers said pupils experience homophobic bullying, even if they are not gay.

Deborah Gold, chief executive of Galop, said: "Homophobic and transphobic crime is certainly not going down. Whether it's going up or whether there's increased reporting is hard to say. But it is as significant a problem as it always has been.

"On the face of it there's increased acceptance [of gay people], but when you look at homophobic bullying in schools or the abuse people face when they are leaving their homes from neighbours or kids shouting at them, it's a significant problem."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat