06/08/2018 12:44 BST

What Should You Do If You Witness Homophobia In Public?

A man is in custody following an incident on a Brighton train at the weekend.

Whether you identify as LGBTQ or not, would you know what to do if you were confronted with a homophobic incident on the streets of Britain? Do you get involved or just report the incident later?

Journalist Benjamin Butterworth told HuffPost that he was “upset” with himself after he witnessed an incident on a train from Brighton to London Victoria station, after Pride, at the weekend.

“I thought I was a confident gay man, and I could stand up to abuse.” But after the unidentified 28-year-old man reportedly threatened to draw a knife on people in the carriage for being gay, Butterworth said he was “terrified”. 

The man was later arrested by the British Transport Police at Clapham Junction station, and is still in custody. Butterworth says he felt reassured by the fact there was “safety in numbers” and other people shouting at the man to stop. 

But what should you do in that situation: is it best to get involved or to just report the incident at a later time when you feel safe?

What can you actually report as a hate crime? 

The British Transport Police say a hate crime is when someone commits an offence against you because of your sexual orientation, your gender identity, race, religion, disability or any other actual or perceived difference. 

This can include physical violence, someone using offensive language towards you, harassing you because of who you are (or who they think you are) and posting abusive or offensive messages about you online. 

If what you are experiencing fits into any of these categories then you should think about reporting it.  

How common is hate crime related to sexuality? 

report by Stonewall found that in the last 12 months in the UK 21% of LBGTQ people had experienced a hate crime or incident due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

valentinrussanov via Getty Images

When should I get involved? 

Like Butterworth, Stonewall says it is not always easy to know when to step in, suggests that as long as it is safe to do so, you should call out abuse whenever you see it. 

They say: “Support those being targeted by letting them know you are an ally.”

When should I report a hate crime? 

“Even if you’re not sure if it was a crime or not, you should report it so we can investigate,” says the BTP. “You might want to shrug it off. But it’s important that you tell us. If we don’t know about it, we can’t stop it from happening again or getting worse, for you or someone else.” 

And hate crime doesn’t have to be targeted at you to report it. You can report anything you see happening to someone else, or report it on their behalf if they don’t want to, says the BTP.

How do I report a hate crime? 

If you are just out and about in public (on the street, in a shop) and you find yourself or someone else in immediate danger, then you can call the police on the 999 number.

If you are on public transport and it is a non-emergency (ie. you feel safe) then you can call 0800 405040 and report what happened. You can also text 61016 to get the British Transport Police. Or call the local police force on 101.

If you witness discrimination in accessing public services (like housing or social services) to the service provider or local council so they can take action or contact Stonewall’s information service on 08000 50 20 20 for advice.

Anyone who witnessed the incident on the train (Sunday morning at 5.53 am) should contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40, or text 61016, quoting reference 107 of 5/8/2018