Reports of homophobic and transphobic hate crime are rising at record rates, with charities calling the findings “deeply worrying”.
The shocking data was collected and analysed by Vice World News, who sent freedom of information requests to every police force in the UK.
Overall, homophobic hate crime reports have doubled in the past five years while transphobic hate crime reports have tripled.
The data reveals that police received 26,824 reports of hate crimes based on sexual orientation in 2021-22, compared to 10,003 in 2016-17 – representing an increase of 168%. The most recent reporting year saw the biggest annual increase ever recorded, at 32% in 12 months.
The rise of reports for transphobic hate crime was even higher. There were 1,292 reports of transphobic hate crime recorded in 2016-17, but 4,399 in 2021-22– a staggering increase of 59%, which is also the largest increase ever recorded.
Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall, described the latest figures as “shocking”.
“This data is deeply worrying and shows an alarming rise in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people being targeted because of who they are,” she said in a statement.
“Behind these figures are people who’s lives have been damaged by hatred and abuse. All these figures are terrible, but it is especially shocking to see a reported 59% increase in hate crime targeted towards trans people in the past five years. The constant drumbeat of anti LGBTQ+ sentiment in media and politics has a human cost.”
Some police forces told Vice World News the increase in reported incidences actually reflects “increased confidence in reporting, improvements in crime recording and a better understanding of what constitutes a hate crime”.
But Arthur Webber, a 24-year-old journalist and former council candidate from London, is not convinced by this idea.
“My partner and I have been homophobically abused on the street we live on three times so far this year,” he tells HuffPost UK.
“It makes you afraid to leave your home because what if it’s not just verbal this time? We didn’t bother reporting them because nothing happened when we reported an incident in 2021.”
Webber said the individual officer who initially handled their report last year seemed helpful and disclosed that she was LGBTQ+ herself, which made them feel more comfortable.
However, after taking their statements the case was taken no further, despite the incident happening on public transport with CCTV. HuffPost UK has contacted the Metropolitan Police for comment and will update this article with any response.
Hayley Speed, assistant director of services at the youth homelessness charity Akt, also believes LGBTQ+ hate crime actually goes underreported.
“What we know is that people who are experiencing homelessness are far less likely to report hate crimes directed at them,” she tells HuffPost UK.
“This is due to a series of factors that include a lack of a fixed address, lack of internet access, and in some circumstances, a lack of trust in the police. Furthermore, covid has drastically reduced any services dedicated to reporting anti LGBTQ+ hate crimes.”
Speed describes the latest statistics as “stark but somewhat unsurprising” and points out that people from that people from intersectional backgrounds are at risk of experiencing multiple oppressions as they deal with the threat of
“48% of the young people we helped nationwide identified as trans, non-binary or were questioning their gender identity. In London, 69% of the young people we supported identified as black, brown or people of colour,” she says.
“These are all factors that mean that young LGBTQ+ homeless people are at an
increased level of risk when it comes to anti-LGBTQ+ abuse in public.”
Similarly, Webber says the latest figures are “scary but not surprising at all”.
“More needs to be done to challenge anti-LGBT+ bigotry in the media, as it is no coincidence that such a stark rise is occurring when trans people are demonised daily by columnists and drag queens are being monstered for reading to children,” he adds. “These ideas don’t appear out of nowhere.”
Stonewall’s Nancy Kelley agreed that further action must be taken to protect LGBTQ+ people.
“As a society, we all need to do more to combat anti-LGBTQ+ violence and call out abuse, harassment and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment wherever we see it,” she said. “But we also need a greater commitment from the police to take decisive action to follow up and prosecute these offences.”