Forces reveal rise in homophobic crime reports

SOME of the UK’s biggest police forces have recorded a rise in the number of violent homophobic crimes this year, according to new figures.

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Gay rights charities said that while it was “encouraging” more people were reporting hate crime, many victims felt “silenced” by abuse on the street.

Nineteen forces recorded more violence against the person offences, which were classed as homophobic or motivated by a person’s sexuality, between January and October than the whole of last year.

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South Yorkshire and Derbyshire were among forces reporting a rise.

Gay rights charity Stonewall warned that homophobic hate crime was “a real issue in the UK”.

West Yorkshire Police recorded 40 violent crimes motivated by a person’s sexual orientation between January and October, compared with 43 in 2013 and 53 in 2012.

Humberside Police recorded 37 violent homophobic crimes between January and October, compared with 42 in 2013 and 57 in 2012.

North Yorkshire Police recorded five homophobic violent crimes between January and October, compared with 12 in 2013 and 10 in 2012.

Gay rights charity Stonewall has expressed concern about a spate of “particularly violent” homophobic attacks in recent months.

The charity’s spokesman Richard Lane said: “We know that homophobic hate crimes are a real issue in the UK. One in six LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) people have experienced a homophobic hate crime or incident in the last three years.

“We have seen a number of stories in the press in recent months concerning some particularly violent homophobic attacks in the UK.

“These instances we’ve read about are most definitely concerning, as are any cases of homophobic attacks or bullying whether at home or abroad.”

Last week detectives in Manchester launched an investigation after a man promoting an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rugby team was attacked and left with a broken jaw in the city’s Canal Street gay village.

The assault came eight hours after two men were beaten by a 15-strong gang in a separate attack nearby after singing show tunes on a tram, an attack which prompted a protest sing-along on the network by a gay and lesbian choir.

Elsewhere, a 21-year-old man was beaten by two men wearing pink tutus in Surbiton, Surrey, on Halloween night in a suspected homophobic attack.

Robert Kingsford suffered severe cuts and bruises, black eyes and swollen lips after being kicked and stamped on the floor after he tried to protect his 18-year-old friend who was being punched.

Two men, both aged 26, who were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and common assault are currently on police bail.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard launched an appeal for witnesses after three suspected homophobic attacks on Clapham Common in south London in August and October.