UK politicians may have contributed to rise in anti-trans hate crime, government confirms

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak wears a suit and tie as he makes a speech at the Conservative Party conference. The prime minister and UK government have been criticised for making anti-trans remarks and failing to tackle LGBTQ+ hate crimes in the country

A sharp rise in hate crimes against trans people is potentially fuelled by anti-trans comments by politicians, the Home Office has admitted.

In a briefing outlining new hate crime figures for the UK, the Home Office said that transgender issues had been “heavily discussed by politicians, the media and on social media” over the last year, which it said “may have led to an increase in these offences.”

It added that the government’s focus on transgender issues could also have led to “more awareness in the police in the identification and recording of these crimes.”

Data released by the British government on Thursday (5 October) revealed there were 145,214 hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales in 2022-2023, a slight 5 per cent decrease compared to the previous year. 

Yet, hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community, particularly trans people, remain high. 

Transphobic hate crimes rose in England and Wales by 11 per cent to 4,732 recorded offences in 2022-2023.

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Last year, the UK government reported a shocking 56 per cent increase in transphobic hate crimes as offences surged from 2,728 in 2021-2022 to 4,262 the following year. 

Hate crimes against Britons based on their sexual orientation dropped by 6 per cent from 25,639 in 2021-2022 to 24,102 offences in the past year, the data showed. 

Stonewall, the UK’s largest LGBTQ+ charity, highlighted that the recent data comes amid a continued surge in reports of anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-trans hate in recent months. 

Hate crimes against trans people have increased by 186 per cent in the last five years, which comes as influential figures in the UK government increasingly put a political target on trans people

At the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday (4 October), prime minister Rishi Sunak doubled down on his anti-trans stance by claiming that Britons are being “bullied” into believing that “people can be any sex they want to be”. He then said it was “common sense” that a “man is a man and a woman is a woman”. 

The remarks sparked fervent criticism as well as alarm from trans rights activists and allies.

Sunak’s comments followed a conference in which multiple high-profile Tory members used their speech to attack trans people. Health secretary Steve Barclay said he would work towards a ban on trans women from female NHS wards while home secretary Suella Braverman wanted to forbid sex offenders from changing genders

Robbie de Santos, director of external affairs at Stonewall, is concerned that political figures are dehumanising LGBTQ+ people, which “legitimises violence” instead of acting “seriously or quickly enough” to tackle the rising tide of hate.

Stonewall’s head of policy, Kieran Aldred, added that the official hate crime statistics are “just the tip of the iceberg” as the “vast majority of LGBTQ+ people who experience hatred and violence” do not report it. 

Protestors hold up signs reading 'trans rights now' and 'just another day on TERF island' as they slam the UK government for attacking the trans community as well as historically not tackling anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes
The UK has seen a sharp rise in anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in recent years. (Getty)

Earlier this year, the LGBTQ+ community collectively mourned the loss of Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old British trans girl killed in a park. Attendees at vigils told PinkNews that Ghey’s tragic death was an example of how “dangerous” it is for trans people in the UK.

In April, the East London home of two trans women and a gay man was set alight in what was believed to be an anti-LGBTQ+ attack. 

Just a few months later, in August, two men were stabbed outside the Two Brewers – a popular LGBTQ+ bar in south London – in a homophobic attack that rocked the UK. The victims, aged in their 20s and 30s, were treated at a local hospital and released. 

After the devastating attack, one of the victims said he wasn’t “left feeling sad, nor angry or confused” but with “so many questions” about what could lead to someone feeling “it’s okay to attack anyone … whatever their reasons”. 

“As a survivor of a violent attack myself, I know the awful reality behind these rising numbers,” Stonewall director de Santos said. “What concerns me even more is that political leaders haven’t acted seriously or quickly enough. 

“Instead, many of them are filling the public domain with toxic language that dehumanises LGBTQ+ people and legitimises violence.”

“The UK government failed to implement any sort of strategy that responds to their own statistics and reports. 

“We need a strong and committed leadership that moves away from divisive distractions and instead addresses the real problems of people in this country. We shouldn’t be treated like second-class citizens.” 

Leading trans charity Mermaids echoed the sentiment that Conservative Party rhetoric “legitimises” hatred and abuse of trans people.

A spokesperson for Mermaids told PinkNews: ”Trans people are a tiny population of society and yet they are disproportionately more likely to be bullied at school, discriminated against at work, experience poorer health outcomes, homelessness and hate crime.

“Instead of proactively working to sustainably and compassionately address these injustices, the Tory party chooses to instead deny trans people’s very existence.

“The government’s attempts to prevent our access to single-sex spaces despite zero evidence of trans people being a threat, and their attempts to prevent our ability to live authentically by socially transitioning in schools, is part of a wider strategy to essentially strip away the rights, protections and autonomy of trans people, that are an undisputed given to others.

“The end product is a society in which the persecution of trans people is legitimised, as demonstrated by the year-on-year rise in transphobic hate crime. Trans people deserve so much more.”

Stonewall urged the government to actually fight for the LGBTQ+ community and develop a plan to tackle hate crimes. It also called on political figures to back down from using divisive ‘culture wars’ talking points that “harm the safety and dignity of us all”.