LGBT people experience hate crime 'too often' to report to police

By Declan Harvey
Newsbeat reporter

image copyrightBBC / Talulah Eve Brown

Talulah Eve Brown, 21, says if she was to report every instance of hate crime directed at her, "I'd be in court every single day".

She laughs: "I'd literally be best friends with every police officer in my town."

In truth, she finds the daily abuse she gets from strangers "pretty traumatic" and "hurtful".

She's been speaking as a report suggests LGBT hate crime is massively under reported in the UK.

Three days before speaking to Newsbeat, it happened yet again to Talulah: "I was walking down the street. These two young guys - they were probably about 18 - were walking past me.

"The level of verbal abuse I got from them was shocking, telling me to go kill myself, telling me they wouldn't even urinate on me if I was on fire.

"I held my head high and kept walking. It was quite hard."

Citizens Advice define a hate crime as an act of "violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are."

A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggests Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people are not reporting hate crimes because they are afraid of how they will be treated by the authorities.

Research suggests around 35,000 cases of hate crime committed against people because of their sexual orientation go unreported every year.

However Talulah, who is planning to take part in the UK's first transgender beauty pageant this year, says she has a different reason for not reporting the abuse she receives.

Not only does she feel she'd be doing it "all the time", she says she doesn't want to spend her life feeling "like a victim".

image copyrightBBC / Talulah Eve Brown

"Because I get it on a daily basis, if I was reporting it all the time, I'd feel stupid, like 'I'm such a victim',

"At the end of the day, how I live my life and what I am is not affecting anybody else. It's their problem not mine.

"I'm strong enough to take it on the chin and I just carry on with my life."

Apart from catching those responsible, there are other advantages to reporting hate crimes, according to Chief Constable Jane Sawyers, Lead for LGB&T Issues at the National Police Chiefs Council:

"Targeting a person because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is unacceptable. Everyone has a basic human right to feel safe and confident about themselves," she says.

"Victims and witnesses should never be afraid to come forward.

"Better knowledge is key if we are to challenge hate, bring offenders to justice and reduce the harm caused."

But you'd only ever report a hate crime, if you were aware you were a victim of one in the first place.

Nick Antjoule, from Galop, a support charity which helped compile information for the ECHR report, says that's also part of the problem.

"For lots of people hate crime means violence. It doesn't.

"It's any type of crime that is motivated by prejudice against their identity.

"The thing that people forget about is that the day-to-day verbal abuse and prejudice they put up with is hate crime too.

"It's a really big problem that people tend to forget about."

The EHRC report found 88% of LGBT people they spoke to had experienced some form of hate incident leaving them with emotional and physical scars.

It says: "Although the majority of the LGBT people we spoke to had heard of the term 'hate crime', it was commonly associated with violent acts exclusively.

"Consequently, when participants were asked whether they had experienced a hate crime the overwhelming response was "No".

"However, when participants were asked whether they had ever received homophobic or transphobic verbal abuse, the majority of the sample could recall multiple incidents."

Talulah has reported one attack to police.

Three years ago she thought a man "was going to kill" her.

He attacked her with a knife after sleeping with her.

"He didn't want people to find out he'd done it.

"He got worried and tried to kill me."

She says: "The police did an amazing job." The man was sent to prison for three years.

The EHRC report, which was written by researchers from the University of Leicester, suggests ways to tackle the problem of under reporting.

  • There should be more engagement with the LGBT community, and not just through a limited group of representatives
  • There should be more effective awareness campaigns which focus on successful prosecutions
  • Make it easier and less intimidating for LGBT people to report hate crime
  • Allow people to report hate crime anonymously

For advice and help on these issues visit the BBC Advice pages. The police True Vision website is also available.

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