According to a new survey conducted by LGBT advocacy group Stonewall, incidents of anti-LGBT abuse and assault in Britain have increased by 78% in the last five years, Sky News reports.
Coinciding with Stonewall’s Come Out for LGBT campaign, this research aims to highlight the “shocking levels of hate crime and discrimination that LGBT people still face in Britain today.”
A poll of 5,000 LGBT people found that 21% of respondents had experienced a hate crime in the past year, but 81% of these victims did not report those incidents to police. These crimes occurred more among black, Asian, and other minority respondents.
The survey also reveals that more than half of British gay men don’t feel comfortable holding hands with a partner on the street.
“I think whereas for some LGBT people there’s been tremendous progression—we’ve seen in 2014 equal marriage, we’ve seen some wonderful strides forward—unfortunately there’s still an awfully long way to go,” says Stonewall representative Dominic Arnall.
Reg Kheraj was recently attacked after a night out in London’s Soho area. “I was pinned up against the wall and choked on my throat by two guys,” he recalls. “The other one smashed a burger up against my face and rubbed it all down my clothes, all down the front of me, all the while throwing pretty horrific homophobic and abusive insults at me.” Kheraj says it’s the third time he’s been targeted in the last year.
Manchester gay man Carl Johnson suffered a fractured skull and brain bleeding last month in a suspected hate crime. Family believes he was targeted “because of his mannerisms and the way he speaks.”
London gay couple Julian Smith and Andrew Leonard were also beaten in July by a group of men outside their flat. They believe they were targeted because of one of the men’s bright orange shoes.
“All hate crime is abhorrent,” says David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. “LGBT people, like everyone else, have the right to live safely in the community. That is why we want the government to conduct a full review of hate crime legislation and sentencing guidance.”
Stonewall, which encourages more victims to report hate crimes, is also recommending improvements in training for police and prosecutors on anti-LGBT discrimination.