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Sexual orientation and transgender identity hate crime

If someone has been violent or hostile towards you because of your sexual orientation, this is known as a homophobic hate incident.

Hostile or violent incidents because of your transgender identity are known as transphobic hate incidents.

Hate incidents can happen anywhere. Sometimes you may know the person who attacked you, but often hate incidents are carried out by strangers.

Read this page to find out more about homophobic or transphobic hate crime and incidents and what you can do about it.

What is a homophobic or transphobic hate incident?

Something is a homophobic or transphobic hate incident if the victim or anyone else thinks it was carried out because of hostility or prejudice based on sexual orientation or transgender identity.

This means that if you believe something is a hate incident, it should be recorded as this by the person you are reporting it to.

Sexual orientation and transgender identity refer to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT).

Who can be the victim of a homophobic or transphobic hate incident?

Anyone can be the victim of a homophobic or transphobic hate incident.

You can be the victim of a homophobic or transphobic hate incident if someone believes you’re a LGBT person even though you’re not. You can also be the victim of a hate incident because of your association with members of the LGBT communities.

What type of incidents can be a homophobic or transphobic hate incident

Homophobic and transphobic hate incidents can take many forms including:

  • verbal and physical abuse
  • physical violence
  • teasing
  • bullying
  • threatening behaviour
  • online abuse
  • damage to property.

It can be a one-off incident or part of an ongoing campaign of harassment or intimidation.

Hate incidents are not only carried out by strangers. It could be carried out by a carer, a neighbour, a teacher or someone you consider a friend.

When is a homophobic or transphobic hate incident also a hate crime?

When a homophobic or transphobic hate incident becomes a criminal offence, it’s known as a hate crime. There are no specific homophobic or transphobic hate crimes. Any criminal offence can be a hate crime, if the offender targeted you because of their prejudice or hostility against LGBT people.

When someone is charged with a homophobic or transphobic hate crime, the judge can impose a tougher sentence on the offender under the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Remember, the incident you’ve suffered may still be a crime even if it’s difficult to show it was carried out because of hostility based on sexual orientation or transgender identity.

What you can do about a homophobic or transphobic hate incident or crime?

If you’ve experienced a homophobic or transphobic hate incident or crime you can report it to the police. You can also report a hate incident or crime even if it wasn’t directed at you. For example, you could be a friend, neighbour, family member, support worker or simply a passer-by.

If you’re being repeatedly harassed by the same person or group of people, it’s best to report all the hate incidents you experience to help the police get the full picture.

When reporting the incident or crime you should say you think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on sexual orientation or transgender identity.

Incidents at work

If you’ve experienced acts of hostility or harassment because of sexual orientation or transgender identity at work, you may have a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010.

Incidents at or near home

Many homophobic or transphobic hate incidents happen near the victim’s home. For example, you may be repeatedly harassed or intimidated by neighbours or local youths. People may be throwing things like rubbish in your garden or damaging your property. Sometimes, disputes with neighbours escalate into verbal or physical abuse.

You can report these incidents to the police. There are also other things you can do to stop these acts.

You can get your local authority or landlord to take action under their anti-social behaviour powers. You can also take civil court action to get compensation and an order to stop the perpetrator continuing with the behaviour under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Incidents at or near school

When bullying is motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, it can be a hate incident. Bullying in itself is not a criminal offence. But if it’s serious enough, it could also be a hate crime. Bullying includes cyber bullying.

If you’ve experienced homophobic or transphobic bullying, the school should deal with it under their behaviour policy. They should also co-operate with the police and social services if they become involved.

If the school fails to deal with the bullying, you may have a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010. You may also be able to challenge the schools failure to act under their public sector equality duty.

Next steps

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