Gay Northern Ireland man too scared to leave house after attack speaks out in PSNI video campaign
A Northern Ireland man has spoken out about spending weeks locked in his house after being subjected to a homophobic hate crime.
Jordan White (25), from Coleraine, features in the first of a series of four PSNI videos which will focus on various forms of hate crime.
In the video, Jordan speaks of being verbally and physically attacked. He recounts being called a "faggot" and being hit, with his friend also being punched. The attack occurred in April 2015.
He said: "Before being a victim of a hate crime, I never thought that I'd be a victim of it. It's one of those things that you talk about and then think if it did happen then you'd brush it off.
"All I could do was sit at home and think what was it about me that gave me away, what did I do that let him know I was gay? I spent weeks locked in my house trying to figure out and change my behaviour, because he had shamed me about who I am."
In his final year of a politics degree at Queen's University when the attack occurred, the incident severely impacted on his studies. The attack occurred "about five streets away from my house and even less from the library, so I was scared to be there at times, when I should have been writing my dissertation."
He said: "I was worried that he would see me at night when it was only us both around or that we'd meet in an aisle in the library and he'd attack me again. The PSNI discussed this - they told me if I ever felt threatened and concerned about someone hanging around my house, I should ring them and they'd be round because it is was better to be safe than sorry."
LGBT advocacy organisation, The Rainbow Project, which has a dedicated service for LGBT victims of hate crime, was key to Jordan feeling able to report the attack to the PSNI. It provided him with advice on the process of reporting the crime and came with him to report it. Counselling was also offered.
Jordan was proud that the PSNI chose to launch the campaign - named #VOICES of victims - at the opening of Belfast Pride.
"So many LGBT people think that homophobic, biophobic and transphobic attacks are just part of the life of being LGBT in Northern Ireland, and it is in a way, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't report it", he said.
Superintendent Paula Hilman hopes the campaign will not only encourage victims of hate crime, but also the wider community, to report incidents to the PSNI.
"We recognise that hate crime is still significantly under-reported, therefore we need to ensure victims have the confidence to report these incidents.
"There is absolutely no place here for intimidation or threats and there is a collective responsibility on all parts of society to protect our most vulnerable communities.
"We all have a role to play to challenge attitudes and to build confidence and trust to help increase reporting of these unacceptable attacks to ensure results are delivered."
The #VOICES of victims campaign will focus on disability hate crime in September, racism in October and transgender hate crime in November.