Avon and Somerset Police to launch new films tackling homophobic hate crime

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Two new films are being produced in collusion with Avon and Somerset Police in an attempt to raise awareness over the issue of homophobic abuses, particularly in rural areas.

Research has indicated that people in countryside areas are more reluctant to report abuse, compared to those in cities.

Alongside the charity Educational Action Challenging Homophobia, (EACH) Avon and Somerset Police are set to create two new short films to encourage those who have been the target of anti-gay abuse to step forward.

EACH director Jonathan Charlesworth spoke about the unique challenges facing those who live in rural settings.

He said: “It can sometimes feel a lot harder to do something about it or know what to do or have confidence that the agencies that one goes to are going to be there to listen and support. They are, and what we want to do is bridge that gap with a firm confidence in people so they’re empowered to come through with those reports.”

Mr Charlesworth also added he aims to raise awareness of abuse online. He said: “In the last 12 months, EACH has seen an expediential rise in the amount of media interest that’s been shown both in the issue of cyber safety or online safety and in the work that each is doing particularly around prejudice-based bullying and harassment.”

Earlier this month, it was found that 7% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last three years.

One in ten of those who experienced a homophobic hate crime were physically assaulted with 18% of victims threatened with violence or the use of force. More than eight in ten, 85% of gay people who suffered a hate crime or incident reported harassment, insults or intimidation.

In August, teenager Justin Allen wrote for PinkNews on the challenges of growing up gay in the countryside.

He said: “I’m not saying we should look to improve transport in rural areas merely to help people have the odd casual fling – I’m sure it’d also really help small businesses have a wider pool of people to employ; but it’s an important reason.

“The formative experiences of sex are being denied to people in the countryside, particularly gay people and we need to change this.”