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Yard to counter gay hate attacks

SCOTLAND YARD is likely to establish a unit to investigate attacks on gays, lesbians and transsexuals. It would be part of the Yard's Racial and Violent Crimes Taskforce, which has a remit for monitoring all forms of "hate crime".

On Wednesday officers met gay community leaders to plan a partnership aimed at improving relations between the Met and LGBT communities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender). It follows the reaction of bigots to the attack on the gay Admiral Duncan pub in London's Soho as part of the recent nail bombing campaign. After the bombing, which killed three people, the gay lobbying group Stonewall received 40 homophobic and abusive calls. It normally receives one or two.

Mark Watson, a spokesman for Stonewall, said: "It shows that there are lots of people out there who still hate gays."

It was important that there was a unit dedicated to homophobic attacks, which could have different characteristics from race crimes.

"On the one hand, spontaneous attacks on gay people are similar to racist attacks ... But there is also the element of pre-planned queer-bashing in cruising grounds."