By Jenny Crocker, Co-chair of Riversdie’s LGBT staff network Spectrum
In September 2009, Ian Baynham was a victim of a homophobic attack. He was verbally abused and beaten unconscious in Trafalgar Square. After two weeks in a coma he died from the injuries he had sustained. His death inspired the first London Vigil against Hate Crime which was held on October 30, 2009. Over 10,000 people attended this event.
The London Vigils took place until 2010 with other similar events taking place around the UK. In 2012 the vigils evolved into National Hate Crime Awareness Week. Hate Crime Awareness Week aims to bring people together to stand in solidarity with those affected by hate crime, to remember those we have lost, to support those who need ongoing support and to educate to prevent hate crime.
Of course leading up to Ian there have been several high profile deaths in the UK from hate crimes:
- Stephen Lawrence in 1993 – the victim of a racist attack
- Robyn Brown 1997 – the victim of a transphobic attack
- Johnny Delaney in 2003 – the victim of a racist attack
- Jody Dobrowski 2005 – the victim of a homophobic attack
- Fiona Pilkington and Francesca Hardwick in 2007- vicitms of a 10 year campaign of harassment due to Francesca’s disability
- Sophie Lancaster in 2007- the victim of an attack for being a goth. Her boyfriend Robert Maltby was in a coma for a week after the attack.
What is hate crime?
Hate incidents and hate crimes are acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are. For example; because of your disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other perceived difference.
It is estimated for every one incident reported there are 31 incidents not reported. This could be down to (among other things):
- not wanting to disclosure personal information
- fears of not being believed
- normalised to abuse
- cultural issues
- fear of reprisals
- not knowing how/where to report
- accessibility difficulties
- mistrust of police services
- negative past experiences of reporting crimes
There are a number of ways to report a hate crime or incident: