Senedd reflects on increased anti-LGBT hate crimes

(Title Image: Matthew Horwood via Getty Images & Wales Online)

A lot of this members’ debate focused on devolution of criminal justice. Given that the Thomas Commission report was published today, I’m not going to focus on that in this article and I’ll leave it for a special post tomorrow.

The Motion

The Senedd:

 

  • Calls on the Welsh Government to provide a progress report on its work to tackle LGBT hate crime in Wales.
  • Calls for the devolution of justice to ensure an integrated approach to tackling LGBT hate crime.
  • Calls on the Welsh Government to outline how the creation of a devolved Welsh justice system could promote the safety and wellbeing of LGBT people.

Hate crimes “on the increase”

Sian Gwenllian AM (Plaid, Arfon) was inspired to look into the issue due to a homophobic attack against members attending a GIDSA (charity) club for young LGBT people in her area. Some now no longer want to attend the club.

“Over the past year, almost 4,000 hate crimes were recorded in Wales, the highest number yet for hate crimes in this country and almost double the figure recorded in 2013. It’s disappointing to see the levels increasing again across all the protected characteristics: race, religion, disability, and crimes against the LGBT community. Hate crimes against this community specifically have increased 12%, from 670 to 751 recorded cases over the last year, and the number of hate crimes against the trans community have increased from 64 to 120.”
– Sian Gwenllian AM

Nick Ramsay AM (Con, Monmouth) said these were deeply worrying statistics and if you dig deeper down it becomes even more worrying – particularly increases in transphobic abuse, which has quadrupled in five years. He didn’t think this could be addressed without focusing on educating young people.

“Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people are hit by double discrimination. According to Stonewall, half of black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people have experienced discrimination or poor treatment because of their ethnicity from others in their local LGBT community, and this number rises to three in five black LGBT people. And a third of lesbian, gay and bi people of faith aren’t open with anyone in their faith community about their sexual orientation.”
– Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda)

Joyce Watson AM (Lab, Mid & West Wales) didn’t think the solutions lie in the criminal justice system alone but in wider society – nonetheless, victims of hate crimes should be encouraged to report them.

Focusing on the positives

“I just thought that it might be an opportunity to reflect on where we have come from, because certainly those of my generation and anyone brought up in school in the late 1950s and early 1960s will know that, in school, racism, homophobia and antisemitism were part of the culture of schools. The actual changes that have taken place through the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s to today are quite phenomenal and I think it’s important to recognise them because in recognising those, we’re also able to identify what the current challenges still are.”
– Mick Antoniw AM (Lab, Pontypridd)

Jenny Rathbone AM (Lab, Cardiff Central) focused on efforts to address homophobia and transphobia in sport, citing several successful initiatives including the Just a Ball Game? initiative – which has had support from Neville Southall and Gareth Thomas – as well as Cardiff Dragons, Wales’ first LGBT football team.

Mark Reckless AM (BXP, South Wales East) said that historical levels of anti-LGBT hate crimes have fallen despite a blindspot to transphobic abuse which has only been recorded properly in the last few years:

“….in 2007 to 2009, grossed up from the survey number to total population, suggested 69,000 hate crimes related to sexual orientation across the UK. And then, in 2010-12, that fell from 69,000 to 42,000 on the British crime survey, and then in 2013-15 fell again to 29,000. There is a small uptick in 2016-18 from 29,000 to 30,000, but not statistically significant on the basis of the numbers in the survey.”
– Mark Reckless AM

Anti-LGBT “should be an aggravating offence”

Chief Whip and Deputy Minister without portfolio, Jane Hutt (Lab, Vale of Glamorgan), has asked the UK Home Secretary to consider making anti-LGBT motivations and aggravating factor in crimes in line with race and religion.

An additional £360,000 has been made available over the next two years to the national hate crime report and support centre run by Victim Support Cymru and £350,000 has been made available to address hate crimes in schools.

The motion was unanimously approved.

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