Hundreds of thousands of people will converge on central London on Saturday for the Pride in London parade, the culmination of a week of activities and the biggest LGBT event in the UK. But despite the celebration and positive sentiment towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people that Pride brings out there is darker undercurrent in London – homophobic attacks are up by 50% in the past 18 months.
Data from the Metropolitan Police shows that in the 12 months to the end of April this year attacks reached a new peak with 1,595 crimes reported. Urbs London measured homophobic attacks over 12 month rolling periods from April 2008. As the chart below shows, attacks rose until September 2010 and then began to fell back to 1,058 in the 12 months ending in August 2013. Since then attacks have risen to the new peak.
There seems to be a seasonal element to homophobic crime. Looking at the data by month over the the full calendar years for the period 2009 to 2014 shows monthly averages higher in June and July.
It is not clear from the data, which is based on recorded crimes, how much of the increase is due to better reporting of incidents. Homophobic attacks are classified as a hate crime, and the Met records more hate crimes than any other police service in the UK. But the Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, says that it is a category of crime that remains under-reported.
A hate crime is defined as one “which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic; specifically actual or perceived race, religion/faith, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity.”
Homophobic attacks make up about 10% of hate crimes in London. 75% are based on race and religion.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime last year embarked upon a hate crime reduction strategy based on 3 objectives – improved reporting, prevention and achieving swifter justice for victims. In setting out the strategy the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greelagh, said, “These crimes are rare, but we recognise that society must change to tackle the root causes. Where hate crime occurs we owe it to all Londoners to work as hard as we can to seek justice and enable victims to cope and recover.”