Strathclyde Telegraph

Scottish LGBTI people still suffering from high incidence of hate crime

Two out of three LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) people have been the victim of a hate crime, according to Scotland’s largest ever study of hate crimes against the community.

The Scottish LGBTI Hate Crime Report 2017, published in advance of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, has found that the problem of hate crimes against the queer community is still far from solved. Amongst the most disheartening statistics is that 20% of respondents have experienced more than ten incidents of abuse in their lives.

Hate crime figures for trans respondents were even higher than for LGB people with 80% saying they had been the target of at least one hate crime. Furthermore, 30% of trans people surveyed said they had been victim to more than ten hate crimes.

Responses also suggest that for some respondents, hate crimes are a frequent part of life, as 3% suggest they had suffered a crime in the past day and another 3% within the past week. The place in which a respondent was most likely to experience a hate crime was on the street, followed by busy public venues such as cafes and pubs.

Figures at the Equality Network, the LGBTI charity that published the research have expressed worry over the findings.

Policy coordinator Hannah Pearson said, ‘Hate crime is a serious concern for many LGBTI people. We were shocked to find how many people have experienced repeated hate crime. These crimes are unacceptable in 21st century Scotland.’

‘Although the report makes for difficult reading, we hope that people will find it informative and useful, and together, we can work in tackling all forms of hate crime.’

Rates of hate crimes being reported to police suggest it is also a hidden problem. Only 29% of LGBTI people who experienced hate crimes reported any of the crimes to which they were subjected to police and a mere 5% reported all of them.

Those who reported hate crimes had mixed experiences with police.

One gay respondent said there was a ‘slow response, unsympathetic officers, invasive and aggressive treatment of me as a victim and no charges ever brought.’

On the contrary, a trans respondent said ‘They dealt with the incident very well, and let my partner and I know every step of the way what was going to happen.’

For LGBTI Strathclyde students, the situation is no different. Head of Strathclyde LGBT+ Leo Siebert echoes these sentiments.

He said: ‘Unfortunately, this issue is also a big concern for LGBT+ students on campus. Students are also not always comfortable to approach the police due to incidences of homophobic or transphobic behaviour from the police themselves.’

‘That is why we were involved in the Speakout campaign of the Students’ Union last year, which resolved in the creation of a University-specific “Report and Support” form. We also encourage students to speak to the Advice Hub and our society is available for support.’

Gay first year student Allan O’Connor has faced verbal abuse and homophobic slurs in the street. He says that he felt ‘very vulnerable and as though I didn’t belong in my own town.’

He added ‘I do believe that in the UK, we are lucky to have made as much progress as we have. However, I believe there still can be so much more done to help prevent hate crime. Starting from a young age, many of the youth who are homophobic are not educated and have had a very sheltered view of sexuality. They are not taught that queerness is normal and if they are taught as such at a young age then we can stop this ignorance.’

By Jack Henderson