Labour’s Sadiq Khan pledges ‘zero tolerance’ approach to homophobic crime

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The London Mayoral hopeful has promised to take a tough stance on hate crime if elected.

Sadiq Khan was responding to reports that homophobic crimes have surged by nearly a third in London in the past year.

According to data from the Metropolitan police, homophobic, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic offences have all risen over the past twelve months in London.

The Labour candidate – who beat election favourite Tessa Jowell earlier this month – says that although he is happy more people are reporting hate crime, it is disheartening that so much “abuse” still exists in such a “liberal city”.

“The reality is that London is a very tolerant and fair city, one of the most liberal cities in the world,” he told The Londonist.

“There are two ways of looking at it. The glass half full stance is that it’s great the public has confidence to come forward and report crimes. That’s a good thing.

“But it’s very sad and upsetting on the other hand, because people are being assaulted, abused, mistreated because of the colour of their skin, their faith, their sexuality.”

Khan says that although London is seen as one the most culturally diverse cities in the world, many of those moving to London for the first time can be overwhelmed by just how open-minded it is.

“People come from all round the country and the world to London,” he said.

“There are people who come here from parts of the country that aren’t ethnically diverse.

“Being here opens their eyes to how fantastically diverse London is and they have nothing to fear from people who are different,” he added.

Despite this, he later promised to take a tough stance on those who show prejudice or discrimination to others, adding that the media had an integral role to play in breaking down social stereotypes.

“The media has a huge role to play,” Khan says.

“Too often, the people who are ‘representing’ the Islamic faith aren’t representative, they’re angry men with beards. And that’s not what Islam is about.

“Also, the mayor is in charge of policing in London, and I would make it quite clear that there would be zero tolerance of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and homophobia.”

Homophobic, racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic attacks all also saw a rise between 2014 and 2015.

However, the number of homophobic incidents recorded was nearly double those of Islamophobic crimes, and three times the number of anti-Semitic crimes.

The Met data showed that 1,667 homophobic offences took place in the 12 months to July 2015 – up from 1,289 in the 12 months to July 2014.

It came after a PinkNews YouGov poll found that – compared to the rest of the UK – Londoners are over five times more likely to reject a gay or trans child.