Sunday, 18 October 2009

Homophobic Hate Crime on the Rise

So reports the Guardian. On Friday, it published stats from London showing a rise in the number of reported hate crimes motivated by homophobia. According to the report '1,192 homophobic offences were recorded in the 12 months to September this year, compared with 1,008 in the same period last year. That shows a rise of 18.3%.' Of course, there's the old chestnut of the figures representing a rise in the number of reports of hate crime rather than the actual number of hate crimes with people feeling more able to report these offences or more aware of identifying a particular crime as homophobic. Earlier in the year I joined Sunderland's Independent LGB Advisory Group. Shamefully, I'm yet to attend an actual meeting thanks to clashes with other meetings but the minutes/docs from the meetings show the number of reported hate crimes and I've been surprised at the low number recently.

I remain one of the unpopular types who still has issues with hate crime laws. If I punch you in the face, does it matter that I have done so because of your race, religion or sexuality? I would say no - the offence is hitting you in the face. I might wish that you are not homophobic, racist or more inclusive in your religious outlook but I don't want to make it a thought crime to think something different - just because it serves my desire today.

On the other hand, hate crime sends a powerful signal about the modes of behavior we say are desirable in our society and reports, such as those reported here in the Guardian and those that IAG's like the LGB one in Sunderland, offer a snapshot of attitudes beyond the gloss of magazines and faux inclusiveness. It punches through the 'I'm not homophobic but..' attitudes of Jan Moir and holds them accountable for their views. I'll record an audio 'boo' on the recent Moir developments in a little while.

Read the full Guardian report here.

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