“This needs to stop,” says London bus LGBTQ+ hate-crime victim Dr Melania Geymonat, following a shocking new report.
Earlier this month, a lesbian couple was attacked on a London bus, sending shockwaves across the UK. But for LGBTQ+ and non-binary women, male intimidation and aggression is a regular occurrence. New research presented by The Guardian on the rise of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes in England and Wales now proves exactly how bad things are.
According to the report, offences against gay and lesbian people have doubled since 2014, and have trebled against trans-people. This includes harassment, stalking and violent assault. Nearly half of the hate crimes against trans-people between 2017-2018 were common assault or grievous bodily harm, while 40% of the crimes against gay and lesbian people were violent attacks.
Dr Melania Geymonat, who was one of the women attacked on the bus, told the newspaper: “When this happened, we were really angry. And we decided to tell the story, because this situation needs to change, and maybe this helps a little. For me, it was a moral obligation. Like, this needs to stop. This was a terrible episode, and maybe [if] we say something, we can contribute to something bigger.”
Chris, the other woman on the bus, also penned a powerful op-ed, writing: “A refrain I’ve heard ad nauseum is ‘I can’t believe this happened – it’s 2019’. I disagree. This attack and the ensuing media circus are par for the course in 2019. In both my native United States and here in the United Kingdom, it always has been and still is open season on the bodies of (in no specific order) people of colour, indigenous people, transgender people, disabled people, queer people, poor people, women and migrants.”
She added: “Make the extraordinary reaction to our attack the norm. I beg you to amplify and channel this energy to hold accountable the intersecting web of elected politicians, government agencies and corporations who have reinforced a status quo of clearly delineated inequality long before this single attack in 2019.”
A response from Taz Edwards-White from equalities and diversity organisation Metro was also included in the report, which read: “There is a tension, and even within our own LGBT community there is a tension. I believe it’s a direct result of people feeling unsafe due to rise of the right wing political movement.
“What we see in our services is lots of people experience day-to-day verbal attacks or violence and aggressive language and homophobic attitudes. We do believe the political climate has had an impact: people feel unsafe. What is happening in central government and all the scapegoating has an effect. We saw a spike [in racist attacks] after Brexit and there has been a steady increase since then.”
Nick Antjoule, the head of hate crime services at LGBT anti-violence charity Galop, has called for more specialist services to support LGBT people ho have experienced hate crimes, adding: “In the last several years, there’s been a really huge spike in transphobic hostility that people are facing from their neighbours, public transport and online … It’s something we need to see changed so people can live their lives openly.”