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Police forces report largest annual increases of homophobic and transphobic hate crime

These figures provide “only the tip of the iceberg,” LGBTQ charities suggest.

By Emily Maskell

Words: Emily Maskell and Alastair James; pictures: Wiki Commons

Homophobic hate crime reports in the UK have doubled while transphobic hate crime reports have tripled over the last five years.

These new figures published by VICE World News reveal that there was a 168 percent increase in the reporting of hate crimes based on sexual orientation from 2016-17 to 2021-22, from 10,003 to 26,824. 

The most recent data also revealed a 32 percent increase compared to the previous year, the biggest annual rise ever recorded. 

“The tip of the iceberg”

A 59 percent increase from 2016-17 to 2021-22 (1,292 to 4,399) was recorded for transphobic hate crimes, also the largest annual increase ever recorded.

LGBTQ charities say that these figures are “only the tip of the iceberg”, because “so many LGBTQ people would never willingly speak to the police about what happens to them.”

These figures came from 45 UK territorial police force data requests covering full reporting years, data is from occasions when a hate crime has been reported to the police.

Police forces have suggested that the increase is evidence that the public trusts police to tackle hate crimes. 

Across the UK, police forces have on large seen a year-on-year rise in hate crime reports based on sexual orientation since 2014.

The London Metropolitan police force saw a dip last year in reports however a 28 percent increase in homophobic hate crimes has been recorded this year – reports rising to 3,794, the highest of any UK police force. 

Additionally, increases could be seen in Scotland (1,010 in 2014-15 to 1,853 in 2021-22), Greater Manchester (a 48 percent increase in 2021-22 to the previous year) and Durham (a 225 percent year-on-year increase).

Only five police forces saw a decrease in reports of homophobic hate crimes compared to the previous reporting year, those forces were Derbyshire, Humberside, Northamptonshire, South Yorkshire and Suffolk.

However, all of them still had massive increases compared to five years ago.

In the most recent data, the highest number of reports of transphobic hate crimes came from London (434), Greater Manchester (320), West Yorkshire (317), West Midlands (234) and Hampshire (201).

Sadly, only four out of the 45 participating police forces witnessed decreases in transphobic hate crime reports since the previous year: Derbyshire, Norfolk, North Wales and Staffordshire.

“Review both our protections under the law and the effectiveness of the prosecutions of our attackers”

Leni Morris, chief executive of Galop, told VICE the data shows “significant, disproportionate rises” in attacks against the UK’s LGBTQ community.

Morris details that this numerical data, in reality, are individuals who have been “physically attacked, or blackmailed, or harassed in their own homes” and therefore the data should be the beginning of extensive work to help hate crime victims.

“We call on the criminal justice system in this country to review both our protections under the law and the effectiveness of the prosecutions of our attackers,” Morris adds. 

A spokesperson for London’s Metropolitan Police said transphobic hate crimes reports had increased nationally due to “increased confidence in reporting, improvements in crime recording and a better understanding of what constitutes a hate crime.”

Steve Reardon, Merseyside Police’s Detective Superintendent, said the force was working to “remove the scourge of homophobia and transphobia from our streets.”

He continues: “One year on, we welcome that the number of hate crimes reported to us has increased so significantly as this shows that more victims have the confidence to come forward to us so we can investigate these appalling crimes, provide support for victims and ensure that perpetrators are put behind bars.”

“We must continue the fight”

Vice’s report paints a dire picture of life for LGBTQ people in the UK in 2022. After numerous widely reported incidents across the country, it’s not surprising to see such figures emerge. 

Figures like these demonstrate that homophobia is still very much a real threat in our day-to-day lives, as well as why Pride has never been more important.

Those demonstrations of love, support, solidarity, and allyship that we’ve seen recently at Pride in London, Brighton, and UK Black Pride as well as every other Pride up and down the country and those still yet to take place show that there is still an army of people willing to stand up and refuse to back down in the face of trans and homophobia and those who would see us return to a long-gone era. 

We must continue the fight, for ourselves and those who may see this and think it’s not safe for them to be themselves. 

We must also, as people try and inhibit the progress of LGBTQ equality, such as with the exclusion of trans people from the current policy to ban ‘conversion therapy’, make sure that we stand as one community and fight for our trans siblings, as well as each other. 

The Attitude September/October issue is out now.