UK: Homphobia on the rise

Guest article by Toni Massari, Trustee

Back in November 2014 Pink News reported an alarming rise in homophobic and transphobic crime with more than 3,000 cases, as reported by The Metro.  J Just in London alone Scotland Yard recorded 1,073 violent homophobic offences between January and October, a 6.6 per cent rise on 2013. They included 315 assaults, and a sharp rise in harassment offences from 693 to 747.

Then, in October 2015 The Guardian newspaper reported a shocking 20% rise in homphobic an transphobic crime.

Almost exactly a year later, in October 2016, The Guardian again  reported a terrifying 147% rise in the same class of hate crimes.

By September 2017 The Independent Newspaper reported a further 80% increase from the previous year.

In January 2017 Pink News reported that:

“7,194 hate crimes based on sexual orientation were recorded during the 2015-16 financial year, equating to 20 incidents every day. 1,844 homophobic hate crimes were recorded by London’s police force, the Metropolitan Police, while 494 were recorded in Greater Manchester and 372 in the West Midlands.”

By 2018-19 the the Evening Express  reported 1,176 sexual orientation hate crimes in Scotland, during 2018-19, a rise of over 5% in twelve months.

Just six months into 2019, we hear that homophobia is not only alive and kicking and on the rise, but spreading alarminlgly, from the big cities into smaller hamlets.

On 1st June iNews reported that “Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, LGBT hate crimes per capita rose by 144 per cent. In the most recent year of available data, police recorded 11,600 crimes – almost three times as much as the 4,600 crimes recorded in the previous period.

Transphobic attacks have surged in recent years, jumping from 550 reports to 1,650 over the period examined by The Guardian. Almost half of these (46 per cent) reported during the 2017-18 period were violent crimes, ranging from common assault to grievous bodily harm.

On the 30th of May 2019 a lesbian couple was brutally assaulted, in a much publicised attacks on a London bus.

We must not forget George Santayana‘s words:

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

We must remember the lessons of pe-war Germany, where in the 1920s homosexuals had gainsed a degree of tolerance, with clubs in Berlin where  openly LGBT+ people could be themselves, laugh, drink, sing and smile with gay abandon (pun fully intended!), free of fears or apprehensions.

Only a decade later many were interned in concentration camps, while others were subjected to brutal experiements, chemical and even physical castration.

“Beginning in 1933, gay organizations were banned, scholarly books about homosexuality, and sexuality in general (such as those from the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, run by Jewish gay rights campaigner Magnus Hirschfeld), were burned, and homosexuals within the Nazi Party itself were murdered. The Gestapo compiled lists of homosexuals, who were compelled to sexually conform to the “German norm”.

Between 1933 and 1945, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals, of whom some 50,000 were officially sentenced. Most of these men served time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 of those sentenced were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps.[1] It is unclear how many of the 5,000 to 15,000 would die in the camps, but leading scholar Rüdiger Lautmann believes that the death rate of homosexuals in concentration camps may have been as high as 60%. Homosexuals in the camps suffered an unusual degree of cruelty by their captors. These estimates include only individuals singled out for their sexual orientation. Many others had already been sent to the camps simply based on their religion without need of other justification. Little study has been done to estimate the number of Jewish homosexuals who died in the camps.”

If we are to retain our freedoms as LGBT+ people, we must revitalise our movement, make common cause, establish networks of mutual assistance and if anything intensify our demands for protection by the Law, from a society that is becoming increasingly fragmented, and subtly brutal towards those who do ont conform to media-driven norms.

It may be worth observing here, almost – but not quite – incidentally, that the famous wartime poem by german Pastor Niemoller omitted homosexuals from his list of regrets…