Galop launches crucial new initiative for tackling hate crime as bigots blame pandemic on LGBT+ people

Midsection of unrecognizable young girl smartphone sitting indoors, internet abuse concept.

A national hate crime helpline has launched today (1 February) to tackle violence against LGBT+ people in the UK.

LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop launched the confidential hate crime service to give advice and support to people in the UK who have experienced abuse or harassment for being LGBT+.

Leni Morris, CEO of Galop, said recorded anti-LGBT+ hate crime has risen at twice the rate of other forms of hate crime over the last two years. She said, from their research and from working directly with victims, the figures “don’t represent the full picture of the abuse being faced by LGBT+ people in the UK currently”.

Anti-LGBT+ hate crime is on the rise

Figures from the Home Office show that anti-LGBT+ hate crimes have been on the rise for two years running. Figures published in October 2020 revealed sexual orientation hate crimes increased 19 per cent (to 15,835) over the last year. Hate crimes against trans people increased by 16 per cent (to 2,450) over the past year.

Morris said, because of the pandemic, the charity had heard from LGBT+ people who were targeted because they were believed to carry disease, due to association with the AIDS pandemic, or because the “pandemic was seen as some as a punishment from God”.

“Because lockdown makes households more easily identifiable in public, same-sex couples were subject to abuse when they were seen together,” Morris said. “We saw situations with transphobic and homophobic neighbours escalate.”

She added that LGBT+ spaces which have moved online have been subject to coordinated attack from anti-LGBT+ “zoom bombings” – the unwanted, disruptive intrusion, generally by internet trolls, into a video-conference call.

‘We needed to offer a safe space to those who need it’

“Seeing what was happening to our community,” Morris said it was clear “we needed to offer a safe space for support and advice to those who need it”. Galop launched an LGBT+ domestic abuse helpline in 2016, but this is the first time the charity will open the equivalent service specifically for hate crimes. 

The hate crime helpline is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 4pm. The helpline is run by LGBT+ people, for LGBT+ people, and is completely confidential. People in the UK can reach Galop by calling 020 7704 2040 or emailing [email protected]