It's clear that hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people are still happening, and the emotional and physical cost to queer people is unacceptable.

Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people are still occurring with worrying regularity. A Stonewall Report in 2017 found that one in five LGBTQ+ people had experienced a hate crime because of their gender identity or sexual orientation in the previous twelve months. For trans people, this figure rises to two in five for trans people. That’s a huge number, and flies in the face of the common understanding that times have changed. This is still happening in 2020, and it can’t be allowed to continue..

Figures suggest that the problem has worsened over the past decade and we are, in fact, sliding backwards. According to figures from the police, the number of anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes reported between 2011 and 2019 rose by 261%. For transphobia-specific hate crime, this figure rose by 645% in the same period. Information compiled by the BBC from all 45 police forces in the UK also suggests a dramatic rise in homophobic hate crimes - it shows them trebling from 6,655 in 2014-15 to 18,465 in 2019-20. 

Coronavirus lockdowns haven’t alleviated the problem either, if anything, it may have created circumstances where LGBTQ+ people are more vulnerable, and are experiencing hate crimes in and around their homes from which they can’t escape. Just released Home Office statistics for England and Wales show that hate crimes targeting sexual orientation are up 19% on a year ago, rising from 3,314 to 15,835. Transphobic hate crimes have reportedly increased by 16%, from 2,183 to 2,540.

These figures are just the tip of the iceberg, as the vast majority of hate crimes go unreported. According to the Stonewall survey, four in five LGBTQ+ people who experience hate crimes don’t report it to the police.

It's clear that hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people are still happening, and the emotional and physical cost to queer people is unacceptable. Violent and nonviolent incidents can be hugely damaging to people’s emotional wellbeing, and leave LGBTQ+ people feeling insecure, traumatised, and afraid within their own towns, schools, or places of work. We should be free to be ourselves in public without fear, but still, more than two thirds of LGBTQ+ people are afraid to walk the streets with their partner holding hands, for fear of negative reactions.

This public hostility toward queer people isn’t just a barometer of the country’s attitude to our community, its prevalence also provides insight into the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. There will probably always be people who wish LGBTQ+ people harm, but if they’re willing to do so brazenly, in view of others, and believe they can escape consequences, this sets a worrying precedent. The more hate crime that happens, be that on a bus, at work, or even on Twitter, without challenge, the more homophobes and transphobes are emboldened to continue, or even escalate their behaviour.

That’s why we’ve produced this anti-hate crime campaign. We want LGBTQ+ people to know that support exists if they experience a hate crime. They don’t have to go through the process alone, whether they decide to report it to the police or not. We also want allies to remain vigilant, and offer assistance to LGBTQ+ people however they can by reporting incidents they witness, or offering support to people in distress. Hate crime is a communal problem, and we need to work together to combat its effects and mitigate the damage done to people of different sexual orientations and gender identities.