Yard to target attacks on gays

SCOTLAND YARD is set to establish a new unit to investigate attacks on gays, lesbians and transsexuals.

The unit 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, senior Metropolitan Police officers met for the first time with gay community leaders to plan the establishment of a new partner- ship, aimed at improving relations between the Met and what is described as the LGBT communities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender).

The development follows the worrying reaction of bigots to the attack on the gay Admiral Duncan pub in London's Soho as part of the recent nail bombing campaign. Immediately after the bombing, which killed three people, the gay lobbying group Stonewall received nearly 40 homophobic and abusive calls when they normally only receive about one.

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

He said it was important that there was a police unit dedicated to homophobic attacks, which he said could have different characteristics from race crimes.

"On the one hand, spontaneous attacks on gay people are similar to racist attacks on people because of the colour of their skin.

"But there is also the element of pre-planned queer-bashing in cruising grounds," he said.

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