October 26, 2009

Hate Crimes on the Rise in London

Unfortunately, the United States is not the only place where an undercurrent of anger is manafesting itself in violent acts against the LGBT community. From the BBC News:

Homophobic crime in London has risen by nearly a fifth, according to the latest figures on incidents reported to the Metropolitan Police (Met).

Last summer, gangs of youths attacked people outside gay bars in east London on a number of occasions.

In one incident, a 21-year-old man was paralysed after he was stabbed repeatedly outside a bar in Hackney Road.

Meanwhile, the recent death of gay man Ian Baynham, 62, who died two weeks after being attacked in Trafalgar Square, has thrust homophobic crimes into the public eye.

According to the latest figures, 1,192 homophobic offences were reported in the year to September, up from 1,008 the previous year - a rise of 18.3%.

'Positive sign'

The Met says the increase in reported crimes is a "positive sign" that police are "moving in the right direction".

It says homophobic offences are under-reported and the rise shows more is being done to encourage people to report incidents.

It's becoming more violent. People are being targeted and brutally beaten up
Dr Stephanie Eaton, Tower Hamlets councillor

But gay rights group Stonewall says there is no evidence that the increased reports of homophobic attacks are because of increased confidence.

A study by Stonewall, conducted last year, showed one in five lesbians and gay men surveyed in London had experienced a homophobic hate incident in the previous three years.

But it found that three quarters of those experiencing such an incident did not report it to the police. In fact, seven in 10 people did not tell anyone else about it.

"Over a third of respondents in our research didn't report incidents to the police because they didn't believe the police could or would do anything about them," says a Stonewall spokesman.

So the number of people experiencing homophobic crime could well be far higher than crime figures show.

Click here to read the rest of the BBC report.

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