Brexit vote driving anti-LGBT hate crime as victims told: ‘You’re next’

Charity records hate crimes explicitly mentioning Brexit vote alongside large rise

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 15 November 2016 17:36 GMT
Michael Salter-Church, chair of Pride in London, says the findings underline the importance of the event
Michael Salter-Church, chair of Pride in London, says the findings underline the importance of the event (Getty Images)

The Brexit vote appears to have driven an increase in anti-LGBT hate crimes by having “opened up the door to prejudicial opinions”, charity workers have warned.

MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee heard that visibly LGBT victims were told “you’re next” by people dishing out abuse and citing the Leave vote as justification.

The charity Galop, which records LGBT hate crimes and provides advice to victims, says it has registered a number of such explicitly-Brexit related attacks against visibly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people in the months following the EU referendum.

The warning follows a dramatic recorded increase in hate crimes revealed in police figures following the vote, with an analysis suggesting that the spike was particularly high in areas that voted strongly for Leave.

“I know that during the debate about leaving the EU there was lots of rhetoric around opening up the door to voicing prejudicial opinions that perhaps otherwise might not have been,” Nick Antjoule, the charity’s hate crime manager, told the committee in Tuesday.

“Obviously, a big part of this was race and faith, lots of negative opinions voiced as part of the debates in relation to race and faith. I can’t help feeling that as part of that it helped opened up to door to prejudicial opinions about other communities being voiced as well.

“By way of example, we’ve had several people come to us saying that they’d been verbally abused by people saying ‘now we can get these people out of the country and you’re going to be next’ to people who are visibly LGBT. So there’s a very visible link there.”

Nick Antjoule, hate crime manager at the chairty Galop (House of Commons)

Figures released by the charity show that hate crimes against LGBT people rose by 147 per cent between July and September, compared to the same period last year.

Speaking of hate crimes more broadly, Nick Lowles, the director of anti-racism organisation Hope Not Hate, said the result of the referendum appeared to have “emboldened” people with prejudiced views.

“I think what’s happened is that a small group of people felt emboldened by the result to express anger and hatred,” he told the same committee.

“The referendum debate obviously gave a green light to people who wanted to express their prejudice but it didn’t change society as a whole.”

He warned there could potentially be spikes in hate crimes if expectations of improved standards of living following the EU referendum result were not met.

Hate crimes recorded by police in July were 41 per cent up on the same month last year.

An analysis of police figures by The Independent conducted following the vote found that attacks had risen further and faster in the most eurosceptic parts of the country.

Lincolnshire saw a 191 per cent rise in ethnic and religiously motivated hate crimes in the week immediately after the referendum, Kent saw an increased of 143 per cent and Nottingham saw a 140 per cent increase in such violent hate crimes.

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