Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Britain have almost doubled in the past four years, campaigners say, with one in five people targeted in the past 12 months.
A newly-released survey of 5000 LGBT people by pollster YouGov found 16 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents reported experiencing hate crimes, such as abusive language, threats and violence, in the past year, up from nine per cent in 2013. Transgender people were not included in the 2013 poll.
Gay rights group Stonewall described the trend as “alarming”, with these high levels of abuse leaving many people feeling unsafe in their daily lives and almost a third avoiding certain streets.
Stonewall’s campaigns director Paul Twocock said four in five LGBT people who experienced a hate crime or incident didn’t report it to the police.
“Although we’ve come a long way in creating legal equality for LGBT people, the reality just hasn’t caught up with that,” Twocock told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Although Britain is one of a handful of countries where LGBT people have equal constitutional rights, abuse and discrimination against them remain rife, say activists.
One in 10 LGBT people surveyed reported discrimination when seeking to rent or buy a home or at a live sporting event, with higher rates when visiting cafes, nightclubs or places of worship.
Also one in 10 of the respondents said they had experienced abuse online in the last month, with the number increasing to one in four – or 26 per cent – for transgender people.
“There’s a sense of distrust of the authorities among LGBT people, who may not report hate incidents against them out of fear they won’t be taken seriously,” said Twocock, calling for stronger legislation and improved police training.