T here is little doubt that hate played a big part in the result of the Brexit vote. In the run up to polling day, some areas of the media focused entirely on immigration issues, stirring up racism and using it to justify our exit from the EU. However, this focus on race has not only affected events on 23rd June, but it seems the UK is suffering a massive hangover from the events surrounding the Brexit event, and one of the key symptoms is a significant and lasting rise in hate crimes.

True Vision were one of the first organisations to wave the warning flag. Soon after the vote, the hate crime charity published figures which showed a massive spike in reported hate crimes the week after Brexit. Within this week, there were a staggering five times more hate crimes being reported. While most were directed towards foreign nationals, there have also been reports of a rise in prejudice towards LGBTs. In London just a few days after the vote, a gay man was astonished to hear a group in Drury Lane shouting ‘first we’ll get the Poles out, then the gays’. And his story has similar examples across the country.

However, the rise in racism itself is an issue for the gay community, whether reports of LGBT specific hate crimes are rising or not. There is currently a large number of LGBT immigrants in this country. Some are seeking asylum specifically because of their sexuality, some chose the UK to settle in for its open attitude to matters of sexuality while others just happen to be gay and living here. But one thing is clear, the rise in hate crime is a very real issue for the LGBT community.

And figures are showing that this could be a lasting problem. While there was a spike of hate crime in the week following Brexit, figures have settled, but they have settled at a much higher rate than before the vote. We won’t know the full picture until sometime into next year when figures are released, but Brexit does seem to have legitimised racism and brought all forms of hate out from behind closed door.

With these figures in mind, Hate Crime Week, which runs from 8th – 15th October, is more important than ever. The emphasis in this time of increased hate is on reporting. No hate crime should be too ‘trivial’ to report. From name calling in the pub to shouting in the street, anything which is racist, homophobic, ant-disability or sexist should be tolerated. It is true that reporting does not always lead to a conviction, but there are still many reasons to report it. Sometimes just a visit from a police officer is enough to make somebody think twice about their actions. Reporting can also add vital information to the picture of where, when and what crimes are happening which can inform authorities and help in policing such issues.

To find out more about hate crime or report an incident, visit one of the websites below. If you are in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to call 999 or to report a local incident after it has happened, you can also call the non-emergency police number which is 101.

 

True Vision – www.report-it.org.uk

Stop Hate UK – www.stophateuk.org

Government hate crime site – www.gov.uk/report-hate-crime

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Natalie has been an LGBT journalist for 12 years and joined the Fyne team in 2001. Her interests outside of work are cycling, running and badminton. She is also studying for a degree in psychology.

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