RELATIVES of hate crime victims, including the sister of murdered Batley MP Jo Cox and the mother of Sophie Lancaster, the young woman killed because she was a goth, will speak at a national conference in Bradford in April.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and Matthew Ogston, whose fiancé took his own life because his family could not accept his sexuality, will also speak at the conference at Bradford College.
The two-day event, which is aimed at raising awareness, promoting debate and sharing good practice around hate crime, is a continuation of the college’s work in tackling inequality and discrimination.
It will focus on LGBT, race and disability hate crimes, Islamophobia, sexual harassment and violence against women, bullying and cyberbullying, radicalisation, and is aimed at delegates from education, private and public sector organisations, the voluntary sector and students.
The Head of School for Social Care and Community Partnership at the college, Brian Mitchell, said that while just a small proportion of the student body are affected by hate crime, for some students, “division is a day to day lived experience”.
“The college is a microcosm of society,” he said. “In Britain today, we live together well, but the agenda can be manipulated by small groups of people with their own interests. It is not commonplace for a person to be attacked for who they are, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t be doing work around it.
“For those who are targeted, we want them to understand they are not on their own. You can lapse into the idea that if you don’t talk about it, it isn’t happening. It’s about keeping hate crime on the agenda and thinking about how we an reconcile what is happening, “
Among the speakers will be Kim Leadbeater, who was a lecturer at Bradford College before her sister Jo Cox was killed by a right-wing extremist. She now works to bring communities together through the More In Common movement, named after her sister’s maiden speech in parliament promoting social cohesion.
The conference will also hear from Sylvia Lancaster, who set up a foundation focused on creating respect and understanding of subcultures after the murder of her daughter Sophie in August 2007.
Kamlesh Kumar Patel, Baron Patel of Bradford; Bradford West MP Naz Shah; and Jasvinder Sanghera, a forced marriages survivor and founder of Leeds-based charity Karma Nirvana, will also speak.
A Bradford College spokesperson added: “We have over 100 different nationalities within our student community. This diversity is creative and empowering but at times because of the national political context we live in, it can be the focus of hate.”