Sunday, June 08, 2008

Homophobic verbal abuse - should we report it?

On Friday night I was out for dinner with two gay friends, who happen to be councillors. We were chatting about all things political when they told me the story of a visit they made to their local pub last week. As they walked in someone in a group of people near the bar spotted them and shouted out, to the amusement of his friends - "Oh look here come the benders". My friends were rightly shaken and upset, particularly as they had had a similar comment when they were out canvassing the previous weekend. We got to talking about what they should do about it. One of them wanted to leave it, the other to report it. My view was very clear, I asked if a racist comment had been made to someone they knew, would they have felt it was OK to leave it?

I had a look at the Home Office website, and whilst it gives stats for numbers of hate crimes reported, it doesn't break them down. Where they are broken down - for example in the Met, they make up about 10% of reported hate crimes. This made me wonder, are people less likely to report homophobic hate crimes, or are they just less likely to occur? Also, what responsibility do establishments, like pubs, have, to take action against customers who verbally abuse other customers on the basis of their race, religion, disability or sexuality?

So, I am planning to visit said establishment next week.........will let you know how I get on!


Jock Coats said...

Here in Oxford the police, councils and gay support groups set up the Oxford "Homophobia Awareness Liaison Team" (HALT) through which people can report such incidents. At the very least, even if some aren't individually pursued, for example if the person reporting it doesn't want it actively pursued, it helps to build a picture of what the incidence of such ocurrences are and where so they can take more pro-active action.

Paul Burgin said...

Am looking forward to reading how this develops. The acid test on such things is to imagine other minorities treated this way and how one would react then! Its ignorance, but very unpleasant at that

Linda Jack said...

Glad to hear this is being taken seriously in Oxford Jock. Let's see what happens on Thursday (tho of course the culprits may not be about - but I am patient!)