Tackling Hate Crime at Every Level

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2009 National LGBT Conference
7 November 2009

Conference deplores the recent spate of homophobic hate crimes, including the murder of Ian Baynham, kicked to death by teenagers in London’s Trafalgar Square on 25 September, and the life threatening attack on James Parkes, set on by up to 20 young people outside a gay bar in Liverpool on 25 October. Also in October, a young lesbian couple in Brighton were punched in the face after being verbally abused by a group of men.

Conference strongly believes that hate crimes directed at Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people need to be addressed on all levels, tackling the prejudice and discrimination that fuel them at an early stage, including in schools.

Conference recognises that attitudes of the police and Crown Prosecution Service to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime have changed considerably over the last ten years. Conference welcomes the strengthened legal framework, including the recent Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act.

However, Stonewall’s 2008 study of homophobic hate crime found that one in five Lesbian and Gay people had experienced a hate incident in the previous three years, but three quarters didn’t report it. The study found that a majority of Lesbian and Gay people strongly believe the police cannot or will not take homophobic hate crimes seriously.

Conference believes it is important to report all hate crime, including incidents such as name calling in the street or threats from neighbours, as these can escalate to more violent and potentially fatal attacks. Reporting all hate incidents allows authorities, including police, to identify patterns, enabling them to intervene appropriately.

Galop’s 2009 report on LGBT hate crime in London “Filling in the Blanks” found that there was low funding of third party reporting services, a lack of consistency or standardisation, and lack of focus on increasing satisfactory outcomes for victims, such as improving conviction rates. Currently, only 1% of reported hate incidents result in a conviction.

Most worryingly, schools remain a breeding ground for attitudes which can culminate in hate crimes. Oldham National Union of Teachers’ 2008 “Prevalence of Homophobia” survey found that almost 99% of teachers responding overheard or observed homophobic abuse in their school at least once a term.

Conference therefore instructs the National LGBT Committee to:

1.Liaise with the Police and Justice service group on best strategies to publicise and tackle hate crime;

2.Urge LGBT members to report all hate incidents, no matter how seemingly minor, so a true picture emerges for policy makers and funders;

3.Promote opportunities for LGBT members’ involvement in local initiatives;

4.Continue work with the Trades Union Congress on combating homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in education, making the link between bullying and violent hate crimes;

5.Seek opportunities to work with relevant campaigns for:

A.Improved consistency and funding of third party reporting services;

B. Increased conviction and victim satisfaction rates; and

C.Joint work between police, local authorities and housing associations to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic harassment.