London vigil against hate crime to be held next weekend

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

After 10,000 people joined a vigil against hate crime in Trafalgar Square last October, organisers hope to turn it into an annual event.

Last year’s candle-lit vigil was held two weeks after 62-year-old gay man Ian Baynham died in hospital. He was kicked and punched in the square while on a night out.

This year’s event will be held on Saturday October 23rd and speakers will include Stuart Milk, the nephew of murdered gay rights campaigner Harvey Milk , Stephen Brookes MBE, from the Disability Hate Crime network, and deputy Mayor of London Richard Barnes.

Organiser Mark Healey told that the theme of the vigil would be uniting communities against hate crime.

He said: “There are a lot of small [hate crime] incidents that are happening. And according to a Stonewall report, many victims don’t report them. I know of three people who have been hurt in homophobic attacks this year.

“The main thing is that the vigil is about remembrance – remembering all those we’ve lost and having hope. There’s so much good work by groups such as Galop and Kairos that needs publicising.

“As Harvey Milk said, ‘You’ve got to give them hope’. That’s what this is all about – reaching out to isolated people, showing them that they’re not alone and breaking down barriers.”

Mr Healey is urging gay businesses in London to help raise money for the costs of staging the event.

Last year’s vigil was seen as a one-off and many of the associated costs were waived. As campaigners wish to make it an annual event, funds for disabled access, a PA system and cleaning up afterwards are required.

Mr Healey hopes that the initiative will spread around the world. Canadian city Vancouver is planning to hold a day against hate crime, while events are also planned in Brighton and Norwich.