The Office of National Statistics reports that hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are up by 112% in the last five years and the Home Office released figures showing that homophobic hate crimes rose by 41% in 2022. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,T rans, and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) described this as the deadliest rise in violence in a decade.
To these must be added recent attacks including an attack late at night at the Two Brewers pub in London on August 13th, an attack at a Brixton bus stop on August 19th, a man in his 50s attacked on a bus in Clapham a week later, and two men assaulted by six thugs in Chadwell Heath on October 1st.
Another disturbing rise was that of transgender hate crimes, which rose by 11 per cent in the year to March 2023. This was their highest rate since figures for these crimes were first recorded in 2012.
Since October 2022, nearly 5,000 hate crimes against transgender people have been recorded.
There is profound disquiet in the LGBTQ+ community over the rise in hate crimes.
Why the rise? It has been argued by some that this could be partly explained by the willingness of survivors to report such crimes but Kieran Aldred of the LGBTQ+ organisation Stonewall refutes this: “The official statistics are just the tip of the iceberg – the vast majority of LGBTQ+ people who experience hatred and violence in the UK do not report this. The Government’s own National LGBT Survey showed fewer than one in ten LGBTQ+ people report hate crimes or incidents. Shockingly this includes only 37% of those who experience physical harassment or violence.” Many point to the homophobic and transphobic invective coming out of the recent Conservative Party conference, where Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman vied with each other for the most hate-filled rhetoric. Robbie de Santos of Stonewall said “As a survivor of a violent attack myself, I know the awful reality behind these rising numbers. What concerns me even more is that political leaders haven’t acted seriously or quickly enough. Instead many of them are filling the public domain with toxic language that dehumanises LGBTQ+ people and legitimises violence. The UK Government failed to implement any sort of strategy that responds to their own statistics and reports.”
These sustained campaigns are not just carried out in the UK but globally by alt-right/far right groups whipping up homophobia and transphobia are also to blame for the rise, as is the foul propaganda pumped out by media like GB News. The pronouncements of Sunak, Braverman, Truss and other politicians legitimise the language of the far right.
The modern LGBTQ+ movement emerged out of a period of heightened struggle worldwide in the sixties. The Gay Liberation Front was founded not long after the Stonewall revolt in 1969 in New York, triggered by a police raid. It rightly took the side of the oppressed and recognised capitalism as its enemy.
LGBTQ+ people need to look towards mobilising on the streets against the attacks and against the hate campaigns.