Homophobic hate crimes reach ‘alarming’ 10-year high in London

·3-min read
Ranjith ‘Roy’ Kankanamalage was killed in an attack in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park  (Met Police)
Ranjith ‘Roy’ Kankanamalage was killed in an attack in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (Met Police)

Homophobic attacks in London rose to a shocking 10-year high this summer as nearly 400 offences were recorded by the Metropolitan Police in June alone.

It represents the worst month on record for anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in London, with Met data going back to April 2011.

Among the 399 homophobic hate crimes recorded in June were 52 attacks targeting trans people, again the highest number on record.

Transphobic hate crimes also remained high between July and September, with a further 119 attacks recorded over the three months.

The issue is set to be addressed in City Hall on Thursday by Labour Assembly Member Unmesh Desai, who is expected to ask the Mayor of London what work is being undertaken to reverse the worrying trend.

Mr Desai, who represents the GLA City and East constituency, said the figures were “alarming and depressing”, and warned “we cannot be complacent when it comes to tackling homophobia”.

He said: “My constituency of City and East has recently been shaken by the brutal murder of Ranjith Kankanamalage in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, which the police are treating as a homophobic hate crime.

“There is also the ongoing inquiry into the police’s handling of the murders of four gay men committed by Stephen Port in Barking.

“The LGBTQ+ community in east London need reassurances that all the necessary measures are being taken to protect them from abuse and violence and that they can feel confident in coming forward reporting hate crime incidents to the police.”

Police are currently hunting a suspect in relation to the homophobic killing of Mr Kankanamalage – known to friends as Roy - with a £20,000 reward on offer for any information that could lead to an arrest.

But despite recent incidents in east London, it is the central London borough of Westminster that has seen the highest number of homophobic hate crimes in the past decade, with 2,238 offences recorded in that time.

Robbie de Santos, director of communications and external affairs for LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, said the increase in hate crimes is “deeply concerning” but warned the actual number was likely far higher, with as many as four in five offences not reported.

Research from Stonewall has found that up to 81 per cent of LGBTQ+ people who have experienced hate crimes do not report them to the police, with younger people showing greater reluctance.

Mr de Santos said: “All lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people deserve to live our lives free from fear, and these figures must be a wakeup call for addressing LGBTQ+ hate crimes. From ensuring that LGBTQ+ hate crimes are properly recorded and prosecuted within the criminal justice system, to training police forces to understand LGBTQ+ hate crime and support LGBTQ+ victims and survivors, it’s vital that we all do more to tackle violence and hate directed at LGBTQ+ people.”

Over the past decade, incidents of homophobic hate crime offences in London have peaked in the summer months, with the highest number of incidents occurring between June and August.

While June 2021 was the worst month in the past 10 years for homophobic hate crimes, offences continued to remain high in the following months, with a total of 955 attacks between July and September.

In the 12 months leading up to September this year, the number of homophobic attacks in London increased by almost five per cent compared to the previous 12 months.

Sadiq Khan is expected to outline steps being taken to tackle homophobic hate crime in London during Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall on Thursday, as well as what work is being done to understand the spike in homophobic hate crimes seen over the past 10 summers.

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