Today (17 May) The Police Service of Northern Ireland are pleased to be supporting the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
This awareness day celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and agender (LGBTQIA) communities globally and raises awareness of the continued work needed to prevent discrimination towards them.
Supporting the LGBTQIA communities, including both the public and police colleagues, continues to be an area of focus for the Police Service of Northern Ireland who recognises more can and will be done to build trust and confidence within these communities to report to Police.
In Northern Ireland over the last 12 months from 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2022, the number of homophobic and transphobic motivated crimes each recorded their highest financial year figure since the recording of these hate motivations began in 2004/05. Homophobic incidents increased from 366 to 462 and crimes increased from 246 to 336. Transphobic incidents decreased from 71 to 65, while the number of transphobic crimes rose from 34 to 42.
Today and for the remainder of the week, the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Hate Crime leads will be taking part in events hosted by The Rainbow Project, Cara-Friend, HERe NI and the Equality Commission. The Police Service will also be posting a range of content across their corporate social media channels encouraging members of the LGBTQIA community to take the brave step in coming forward to report crimes against them.
Superintendent Sue Steen, the Police Service’s Hate Crime Lead said: “This awareness day and week of activity hosted by our partners is a reminder to us all of the continued work that needs to take place to support our LBGTQIA communities.
“Nobody should face discrimination because of their gender or sexuality and we will continue tackling such prejudice. We should be proud of the diversity within Northern Ireland.
“We still have a long way to go until everybody in our community feels safe to live their lives openly and without fear. There are still too many LGBTQIA people who are subjected to harmful comments and even violence.
“These hate crimes will not be tolerated and it is up to all not to stand by if we see somebody being affected and to report it to the police.
“Over the coming weeks, alongside The Rainbow Project, we will be hosting a series of listening events with members of the LGBTQIA community to hear what more we can do to build trust and confidence in policing so that we can work together to put an end to hate.”
On 1st April 2022 the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Department of Justice launched a new advocacy service to support victims of hate crime, including from the LGBTQIA community, through the justice system.
The Hate Crime Advocacy service is a consortium consisting of The Rainbow Project, The Migrant Centre NI, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Victim Support NI.
When a victim reports a hate crime to police, their details will be shared with the advocates. They will then contact the victim to offer support and answer any questions they may have about the criminal justice process.
Commenting on the Hate Crime Advocacy service and the ongoing partnership working with the Police to increase reporting of hate crime against LGBTQIA people, Aisling Twomey, Policy and Advocacy Manager at The Rainbow Project said: “The majority of LGBTQIA hate crimes and incidents go unreported, with young people particularly reluctant to report their experiences to the police. A staggering 68% of respondents to The Rainbow Project 2021 state of the community survey never reported any experiences of violence, abuse, intimidation or coercion to the Police or any other services and only 9% had reported to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
“Key reasons for not reporting included that they didn’t believe that Police could do anything about it or that it was not serious enough and they were fearful of repercussions. When you report hate crime or crime in general, you become part of the movement to stop it. No matter how small or trivial you think the incident might be, it is important to the whole community that it is acknowledged and reported. This is why The Rainbow Project is continuing to work alongside the Police Service of Northern Ireland and our Hate Crime Advocacy Partners in Victim Support, Leonard Cheshire and the Migrant Centre to increase awareness of hate crimes and getting victims and witnesses access to support.”
To find out more about the Hate Crime Advocacy Service you can visit the website here: https://hcasni.com/
Victims and witnesses can report incidents to police without fear via the non-emergency number 101 or 999 if a crime is ongoing.
Victims or witnesses who come forward will be taken seriously and treated with sensitivity. However, if people do not feel comfortable speaking directly to police, hate crime can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers www.crimestoppers-uk.org or 0800 555 111.