Greater partnership work needed to tackle homophobic hate crime -says Stonewall Cymru

Stonewall Cymru will be calling for greater partnership work between the Police, community safety organisations and the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) community in tackling homophobic hate crime at their Annual Conference on Saturday.

Stonewall Cymru will highlight the need to reassure the lesbian and gay community that homophobic hate crime is being tackled as a priority so that LGB people feel confident to report incidences to the Police.

Jenny Porter, Stonewall Cymru's Community Liaison Officer, says, "The Police Forces in Wales are making significant improvements in the way they record and respond to homophobic hate crime, and this is reflected in the more consistent approach they have recently taken when recording homophobic incidences."

"The next steps involve Police and safety professionals working alongside the lesbian, gay and bisexual community to encourage reporting of homophobic hate crime and supporting victims. Lesbian and gay people need to feel reassured that homophobic hate crime will be taken seriously and feel more confident to report incidences."

The number of homophobic hate crime cases that make it to court is very low because witnesses and victims fear repercussions from the perpetrator or may be wary of 'outing' themselves in Court.

The Crown Prosecution Service now have powers to recognise the aggravating feature of homophobia at the sentencing stage and has recorded 63% of successful outcomes of cases brought to court in 2006.  More work needs to be done to raise awareness of the criminal justice process and the special measures available to protect witnesses and victims.

A CPS spokesperson said:  "The CPS is committed to prosecuting homophobic crime robustly, offering the victims a premium service in accordance with our hate crime policies. In reviewing cases with a homophobic element, our lawyers are bound to follow the Code for Crown Prosecutors in assessing the sufficiency of evidence and public interest factors, as with any other type of case.

"Prosecutors will cite homophobia as an aggravating feature of an offence and draw this to the attention of the court from the outset and at sentencing, ensuring that section 146 of the CJA 2003 is utilised."

Matthew Batten, Policy and Public Affairs Officer for Stonewall Cymru says, "Homophobic hate crime needs to be taken seriously so that lesbians and gay people can feel safe in their communities."

"People who are homophobic are as likely to be racist, sexist and discriminatory against people with disabilities. Partnership work with other organisations remains the best way to tackle homophobic hate crime as it can play a vital role in tackling other types of hate crime."

The Conference takes place on Saturday 31 March at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea. Speakers include representatives from the South Wales Police, Victim Support and the Crown Prosecution Service who will highlight the positive work that is being done to challenge homophobic hate crime in Wales.


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