I've recently become interested in the amount of hatred and vitriol aimed at people in the LGBTQ+ community. This has been partly spurred on by my own experience online. Here, I am talking specifically about the UK - a country where it is legal to be gay / lesbian / bisexual / trans. A country which is to hold its first LGBTQ conference next year - after failing to keep their promises to the LGBTQ+ community - conversion therapy, anyone?
Just have a look at this from the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab:
The right to live life without fear and persecution are the bedrock of inclusive and open societies and the UK, as a force for good, will protect and promote these values at home and around the world.
And this, from Liz Truss, Equalities and Women's minister:
I want everyone to be able to live their life free from prejudice, malice, or violence, regardless of their background or who they choose to love.
There's already an issue with Ms Truss - '... who they choose to love.' I didn't choose to be gay - this isn't a sudden decision when little Bertie pipes up at 17 and says 'I think I'll be gay now.' If ministers can't get it right, what hope is there for the rest of the population?
I'm sharing this map again to get some context. In the countries highlighted above, there is some kind of law making LGBTQ+ people illegal. Perhaps we should also add Hungary and Poland, too. And in about ten of these countries, the maximum penalty is death. And some of them are death by stoning. Think of LGBTQ+ people in those countries. Solidarity and safety to them.
Let's turn to the UK.
This is depressing isn't it? The attacks on race, I have to mention, even though this is not the focus of this blog post. But this is disgusting. Look at disability and religion - again, not my focus. Still disgusting. Where is the UK and how has it lost its way so badly? Did we ever have a good way? I should also point out that it is MORE than likely that there are many more offences which haven't been reported - or, dare I say it, were not recorded.
But look at the difference between 2018/2019 to 2019/2020 for sexual orientation. This has increased by 19% - and for my trans siblings, 16%. Are we heading back to the late 70s and 80s? This cannot be allowed to happen.
Looking further into the statistics, at the outcomes of reported hate crimes and how many resulted in charges or summons. For the three types of crimes reported (violence against the person, public order offences and criminal damages / arson) just 2% of crimes reported for hate against sexual orientation resulted in charges or summons. Two percent. For each type of crime. Disgraceful. This tells me that either the police are not efficient enough at bringing perpetrators to justice or people don't care about crime against the LGBTQ+ community. Charges and/or summons against those who committed crimes against trans people are not that much better - 3% for violence against the person and 5% for the other two types.
So, what can you do?
- Have a look at Amnesty International LGBTQ+ here.
- Be an ally or be a voice.
- Be an ally AND be a voice.
- Look out for any online abuse or harassment of LGBTQ+ people and call it out, report and block.
- Educate yourself on the struggles the community faces. And the history the community has gone through.
- Share your commitment to standing up for the LGBTQ+ community.
- Stand up for what you believe in.