The number of reported homophobic hate crimes in the UK has almost trebled in the last five years, from 6,655 in 2014-15 to 18,465 in 2019-20.
The data was obtained by the BBC from all 45 UK police forces via Freedom of Information requests.
Police reports of homophobic hate crimes have increased by 20 per cent in the last year alone.
While police told the BBC that the increase could be a result of more reporting, LGBT+ advocates said that the rise in hate crime was a real increase in attacks, and reports were the “tip of the iceberg”.
Deputy chief constable Julie Cooke, the LGBT+ lead at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, told the BBC: “I could come up with lots of examples where we are getting it right.
“But I absolutely take seriously where we don’t. And we need to make sure that we improve and learn from those times when we’ve not done it right,” she said.
“It is hugely underreported. And so please do come forward. And if you’re not getting the right response that you would expect, please make sure that you tell us about that.”
But Stonewall chief executive Nancy Kelley said there has been a rise in actual attacks.
She told the BBC: “We are definitely seeing a real increase in people reaching out for help across all of the LGBT organisations.
“So we are very concerned that this is a real rise in people who are being attacked because of who they are and who they love.
“We know that 80 per cent of LGBT people don’t report hate crimes. So this is really just the tip of the iceberg.
“One of the key steps to changing this is making it visible, and by standing up and saying that we shouldn’t have to experience this kind of hate and abuse.”
The last couple of months have seen some shocking homophobic hate crimes across the UK.
In August, a father in Plymouth was handed a prison sentence after he whipped his son 20 times with a television cable while calling him gay and a “woman” for joining the queer dating app Grindr.
During the same month, a Welsh rugby player was jailed after he drunkenly knocked out a gay man’s front teeth in a homophobic attack at a house party, and a man in Belfast was also jailed after he punched a woman in face because she had a wife, leaving her with injuries so severe she may need cosmetic intervention.
Just this week, a gay NHS worker whose car was doused in acid, revealed that he has been forced to sell his house in Scotland and move to England with his partner to escape months of homophobic abuse.