Homophobia is the Cinderella of discrimination law and Codes of Conduct, as the perception is that more weight is given to protecting against faith, racial and sexual discrimination leaving the LGB T community feeling that reporting homophobic attack will not be addressed with the same vigour as other types of hate crime. The latest survey revealed that abuse, unwanted sexual contact and violence aimed at the LGBT community has risen to a shocking 21 per cent, up from 16 per cent in the previous survey in 2013, with a rise to 41 per cent for the transgender group. Despite the high level of abuse only 20 per cent of the victims report the incidents to the police.
The revelation that the homophobic hate crime was rising at such a rate was met with appropriate comments from the officials heading the Government and other organisations tasked with protecting vulnerable groups in society, David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Baroness Williams of Trafford, the Minister for countering extremism; both commenting that any hate crime is abhorrent and those perpetrating it should pay the price for their behaviour. However, when the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has a high level profile and aims for high office, openly condemns gay relationships so publically it seems to water down the official line.
One thing is definite, such attacks, whether verbal or physical, should not go unreported. Whether an individual suffers a violent attack or is constantly worn down in the workplace by discriminatory comments and spiteful remarks, when such behaviour is reported it should be acted upon. If you are made to feel uncomfortable or upset by direct or indirect discrimination redress can be sought and this, in turn, will send a powerful message that homophobia should not and will not be tolerated.
Everyone has the right to be themselves and not have to fear the consequences of being "found out" as gay or transgender and they should certainly not feel that they have to hide their situation or there will be unpleasant consequences.
There are significant areas of society where gay individuals seem to be completely unacceptable. A gay male footballer has still not come out during the course of his career, except the tragic Justin Fashanu, and it seems highly unlikely that this will happen in the near future. There seems, to all intents and purposes, to be a toxic environment towards gay men in British football which appears to be entrenched from the top to bottom of the football club culture. The various football authorities have campaigns that address other areas of discrimination but do not seem to have the appetite for the same type of robust campaign that weeded out the greater part of the racist behaviour that was formerly regularly witnessed on the terraces and doubtless was also evident behind closed doors in the changing rooms.
Gay Lawyers completely understands how unsettling it can be for an individual to have to describe the actions directed towards them and the words used by homophobic abusers. However, unless firm action is taken to fight against this kind of activity it will continue to be ignored, or worse still, considered acceptable under the "banter" banner. Society has to fully understand that discrimination of this nature is expressly prohibited by law and it will be prosecuted wherever it is found.
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