LGBT people in Britain continue to face prejudice, abuse and isolation in their daily lives, be it at work, at school or in their local communities.
One of the ugliest forms that this takes is hate crime.
Anti-LGBT hate crime comes in all shapes in sizes:
- It’s being targeted with aggressive, verbal harassment in public simply for being who you are
- It’s having to out-run chain-wielding thugs who chase you down the street, with every intent of attacking you
- It’s being the victim of a brutal, physical attack on a bus that leaves you bloody and broken, with little strength to seek help
These are very real examples that can and do happen to LGBT people across Britain.
In fact, they did happen. To me.
What I’ve learned from these experiences, and similar attacks that friends and colleagues have faced, is that there truly is so much left to do to secure full equality for all LGBT people in Britain.
There are still plenty of people out there who not only believe that we don’t deserve equal treatment or the freedom to be ourselves, but would actually go out of their way to hurt and attack us. The same people who revel in leaving LGBT people shaken, afraid, bloodied, bruised, embarrassed and alone.
And it must be stopped.
Anti-LGBT hate crimes are currently not equal in law to other hate crimes, such as those motivated by race or disability.
The government must acknowledge how problematic this is and seek to change it.
At the same time, many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people don’t know what constitutes a hate crime, nor how to report it.
And for those that do, confidence in reporting hate crimes is extremely low among LGBT people, who often fear that their cases won’t be treated seriously.
In addition to changing the laws around anti-LGBT hate crime, we must see mandatory staff training within the Criminal Justice System around lesbian, gay, bi and trans issues.
We must also ensure that education around hate crime is improved, so that all LGBT people understand the steps to take to report any instances they witness or experience.
What can you do to help ensure the government addresses these issues?
It’s vital that all we secure commitment to these asks from all political parties and their candidates ahead of the General Election on 8 June.
To help do this, contact your local candidates and ask if they support all the above and will work towards it within your community.
Together, we can work towards a world where lesbian, gay, bi and trans people feel about to be themselves wherever they are, without fear of abuse or attack.
Hate crime is one of six areas addressed in Stonewall’s General Election manifesto.
You can read more about the document, and download it in full here.
Words by Robbie de Santos, Stonewall