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Record number of LGBTQ hate crime incidents reported in Northern Ireland branded ‘shocking’ by local charity


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Northern Ireland still has a problem with homophobia after record numbers of reported LGBTQ hate crime incidents were reported to the PSNI.

That is the view of local charity The Rainbow Project, calling the new figures released by the police “shocking”.

In the latest figures by the PSNI, reported homophobic hate crimes have risen by 34% to 462 – marking the biggest increase and the highest financial year figure on record.

The figures show homophobic crimes increased from 246 to 336 between April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022.

During the same period transphobic hate incidents decreased from 71 to 65, but crimes in this category increased from 34 to 42.

Aisling Playford from the Northern Ireland charity made the argument that while the figures revealed are “shocking,” they also show “an increased confidence in people to report those incidents to the PSNI”.

However, she added they “do not fully reflect the lived experiences of victims of anti-LGBTQIA+ hate crime” with many hate incidents not necessarily reaching the bar of counting as a criminal offence.

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“The majority of hate crimes and incidents go unreported, with young people particularly reluctant to report their experiences to the police,” she explained.

“Last year the Rainbow Project carried out our State of The Community survey, we received over 1,130 responses and some of the information in regards to experiences of crime were shocking.

“Our research has shown that LGBTQIA+ people are reluctant to report crimes for fear of experiencing further harassment or abuse.

“Over 51% of hate crime and 68% of domestic abuse has not been reported to the PSNI or any other support services, over 43% of respondents were fearful about becoming a victim.

“Clients told us that over 43% of them alter their behaviours to avoid experiencing crime, nearly 60% avoid certain areas at certain times, and 36% advised that they avoid leaving the house after dark.

“The most important factor when reporting is that hate crime victims will be signposted for support through organisations such as the Rainbow Project through The Hate Crime Advocacy Service.”

She added: “Whilst these PSNI figures are a stark reminder that anti-LGBTQIA crime is happening across NI, it also shows an increased confidence in people to report those incidents to the PSNI.

“Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but it is equally important that these are reported and recorded by the police.

“When people report hate crime or crime in general, you become part of the movement to stop it.”

Recently elected Alliance Party MLA Eoin Tennyson said the figures were a “disheartening read” and highlight “just how far we have yet to go to achieve full LGBTQ+ equality”.

“No one should be targeted in this way because of who they are or who they love,” he added.

“We need an Executive up and running to progress that Bill, and to push for change in a whole host of other areas, including delivering the long-overdue Sexual Orientation Strategy and securing inclusive relationship and sex education.”

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