Anti-LGBT Attacks Soar in the UK

Despite strong equality laws, new research shows that the UK has experienced a significant jump in anti-LGBT incidents over the past five years. What explains the increase, and how can we safeguard LGBT lives?

The study, conducted by LGBQIA rights charity Stonewall, used a nationally representative sample of 5,000 people from across the UK. Researchers found that since 2013, the number of lesbian, gay and bisexual people who have experienced hate crimes has risen by 78 percent — increasing from nine percent in 2013 to 16 percent in 2017.

The year-on-year trend is also alarming — in total, one out of every five LGBT people claims to have experienced a hate crime or incident related to their sexuality or gender identity in the last 12 months. This figure increases massively when restricted to the trans community, 41 percent of whom say they’ve experienced such an incident.

Intersectional pressures

A wealth of data suggests that people of color, disabled people and religious minorities are more likely to face discrimination. And the latest research from Stonewall reinforces the fact that the intersectional pressure of being LGBT and belonging to one or more of these marginalized groups is high.

Around 34 percent of black, Asian or minority ethnic LGBT people said they had experienced a hate crime due to their sexual orientation or gender identity in the past 12 months alone. And that’s a significant rise compared to the 20 percent figure for white LGBTs.

The same appears to hold true for LGBT people living with a disability. In the past 12 months, 27 percent experienced a hate crime, compared to to 17 percent of non-disabled LGBT people.

Meanwhile, a third of LGB youth between 18 and 24-years old — and a massive 56 percent of trans youth — said they had experienced a hate crime.

Discrimination across different sectors

Despite the UK having some of the most robust anti-discrimination protections in the world, the Stonewall study finds that three out of every ten LGBT people avoid some areas of their communities because they don’t feel safe. And more than a third say they would not walk down any street holding their partner’s hand. Gay men were particularly wary of this, with three out of every five gay men — 58 percent — stating that they would refrain from hand-holding.

And it seems they are right to be cautious.

One out of every 10 LGBT-identifying people said that they had been discriminated against because of their sexuality or gender identity when they attempted to rent or buy property in the past 12 months.

In bars, restaurants and nightclubs, one in six experienced some form of discrimination related to their identity. Trans people, in particular, feared discrimination in this setting, with over half — 51 percent — reporting that they would avoid certain venues entirely to manage the risk.

Disturbing accounts of discrimination

Stonewall provides examples of reported incidents on its website, and they make for tough reading.

“I was assaulted by a man whilst I was holding hands with my lesbian partner. He grabbed me from behind and thrust himself into me, then verbally attacked me,” says 21-year-old Freya from Wales.

Leo, 53, from England, explains that when he did report an incident, he felt undermined: “I had occasion to report that I had been harassed and suffered an injury. I talked, they listened, but it was their attitude and I got the impression that it was not being taken seriously.”

To be clear, the UK’s emergency services have undergone a radical change over the past ten years. The government has made concerted efforts to increase its knowledge base around anti-LGBTQIA incidents and to promote sensitive and empathetic responses.

Data suggests that this approach has made a difference in many cases, and overall police relations with the LGBTQIA community appears to relatively healthy.

However, this report reveals that LGBT people are seriously under-reporting hate crime incidents, possibly due to a lack of faith that they will be taken seriously.

Stonewall hopes to see massive improvement in this area. The organization has launched a “Come Out for LGBT” campaign in an effort to ensure that visible support is in frequent supply. Meanwhile, the group wants LGBT people to do their part by notifying employers, bar owners and others in positions of authority if they witness or are subjected to anti-LGBT prejudice.

Stonewall also wants to explore increasing official reports of these kinds of incidents, and encourages the LGBT community to involve the police when appropriate.

Dominic Arnall, Stonewall’s head of projects, explained:

We’ve got a lot further to go as this research demonstrates. I think whereas for some LGBT people there’s been tremendous progression – we’ve seen in 2014 equal marriage we’ve seen some wonderful strides forward, unfortunately there’s still an awfully long way to go.

This should serve as a warning to the UK government as it negotiates terms for Brexit and transposes EU law into UK statute: LGBT people need continued and ironclad protections because they are still very much a target.

Photo Credit: David Jones/Flickr


Freya H
Freya H2 months ago

I have quite a few friends and acquaintances who are part of the "alphabet" spectrum of LGBTQ and whatever other letters you care to add. I am proud to be a Straight Ally. That is why I made this petition on behalf of LGBTQ people in Egypt.

Jenn C. you are cordially invited to crawl back under your rock - and stay there.

Colin C
Colin C2 months ago

Why do people feel so challenged by another person just because they are gay I think they have the problem

Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

makes me sad and and very disappointed in mankind, ty

Cruel J
Cruel J2 months ago

Attack religion instead, as it's the root of all evil.

Margie FOURIE3 months ago

Live and let live.

Debbi -
Debbi Wood3 months ago

trump and his ilk have been overly successful in spread their brand of bigotry, fear and hate. We have to keep working to stop it.

Jenn C. Your comment sounds like you fear the LGBTQ. Why what did they do to you? What they do in their lives is no business of yours.

People who are bigots, racists, etc. actually _fear_ what they are criticizing. I would feel sorry for them, but they tend to be crude, rude, and offensive.

Barbara V
Barbara V3 months ago

Sorry--got my posts mixed up. How despicable it is that people are so incredibly brainless when it comes to the LGBT community. In this day and age, somebody always has to pick on others. Stupid idiots!.

Barbara V
Barbara V3 months ago

All life should be rescued--not just human. Wonder how many were abandoned by their stupid owners--- especially after fair warning.

Anne M
Anne Moran3 months ago

So much needless hate in the world; hard to change a bigot's heart, into a kind and gentle one.. - Hate is ingrained in them...