Tory minister says people shouldn’t be ‘too hysterical’ over anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime

hate crime

A Conservative Home Office minister has been criticised for saying LGBTQ+ people should not be “too hysterical” when discussing their concerns over LGBTQ+ hate crimes. 

Sarah Dines, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for safeguarding, said during a Westminster Hall debate on the issue that there is “no place for hate in our society” and any form of hate crime is “unacceptable”. 

However, despite rising LGBTQ+ hate crime rates Dines went on to say the UK is still “world-leading” and “it is at our peril that we say we are not”, adding: “There is always more to do, but we must not be too hysterical in language.” 

Recent Home Office data shows in the year ending March 2022, sexual orientation hate crimes in England and Wales had risen by 41 per cent to 26,152 – a figure which marks the largest annual percentage increase since records began in 2012. 

Transgender hate crime was also up, with an increase of 56 per cent to 4,355.

Reported anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in England and Wales from 2022-2023 were found to have dropped slightly, by five per cent, while anti-trans hate crimes rose by 11 per cent.

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The Home Office has admitted that the sharp rise in hate crimes against trans people is potentially fuelled by anti-trans comments by politician.

Cardiff South and Penarth Labour MP Stephen Doughty, who secured the debate, described Dines’ comments as “deeply disappointing” and an example of “how completely out of touch she and the government are with the lived experience of LGBT+ people”. 

“The evidence is there and is very clear,” Doughty said in his closing remarks, “It is unequivocal: hate crime is up, people’s experiences are horrific and we have slipped down the rankings [of the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map].

“The question is: when will she and the government do something about this, rather than just talking and offering warm words?” 

The debate was attended by cross-party MPs. (ParliamentTV)

In his opening remarks, Doughty recounted how he himself has been a victim of LGBTQ+ hate crime, telling the room of cross-party MPs that he has been assaulted broad daylight, had slurs hurled at him, been abused online and worries “whether it is safe to kiss my boyfriend or hold his hand on the bus or the tube”.  

He said: “The fact is that, despite all the legal progress we have made in this country and the rapidly changing and welcome debate, particularly among younger generations, this is a perilous and profoundly uncertain time for the LGBT+ community in the UK. 

“I would never seek to downplay the even worse threats of death and violence, let alone the absence of basic legal rights in many other contexts globally, but I can genuinely say that we are not in a good place here and things are getting worse.” 

He continued: “That view is not just anecdotal. It is borne out by clear evidence and trends[…], and is sadly borne out by the stark, horrific reality that we saw in the homophobic murder of kind, compassionate Dr Gary Jenkins in my city of Cardiff in 2021. 

“We can all think back to the horrors of the Admiral Duncan bombing in 1999 and the Stephen Port murders in 2014 to 2015 in east London, and all the failures around how that case was handled.” 

Also during the debate, Liz Saville Roberts – Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd – cited “staggering” statistics from North Wales Police about her constituency: 

“The number of hate crimes based on transgender identity has surged by 771 per cent,” she said, “When we bear in mind that it is likely that only one in 10 hate crimes are reported, that gives us a sense of the level of suffering and the sheer size of the problem that we have to deal with.” 

Hannah Bardell, the SNP MP for Livingston, questioned: “How many more people have to share their stories or experience violence before we see a regression?” 

She then asked Doughty if he agreed “if those at the very top of government make statements that attack some in our community, that only makes it more dangerous for everyone and justifies hate crimes against everyone?” 

To which he responded: “I totally agree”, and added: Tthe scale of this issue is staggering”.  

‘The culture war playbook is deliberately designed to divide’

Luke Pollard said he was “proud” to speak in the debate as Plymouth’s first out Member of Parliament, which he said means he has “a special responsibility” to share not only his personal experience, but “speak up for communities who often feel neglected and abused by those in this place”.

Like Doughty, he cited his own personal experiences with LGBTQ+ hate crime.

Pollard shared: “Like many people, I have been attacked because of who I am. 

“I am proud to be a massive gay: it is part of who I am, it is part of my identity and I celebrate it. 

“My office has been vandalised with homophobic graffiti; I have had homophobic threats and messages left on my answer machine; and I have received an enormous amount of abuse simply for tweeting a picture of me and my boyfriend on Valentine’s day. 

“That is an experience that happens to far too many LGBT people throughout the country – being authentically themselves makes them a target.” 

Pollard went on to say we “have a prime minister whipping up transphobia, that is right out of the culture war playbook”. 

“I want to ask the minister whether she has heard of the CAT strategy, which will apparently form the basis of government policy between now and the general election,” he asked Dines, “It will focus on climate, asylum seekers and trans people. 

“The culture war playbook is deliberately designed to divide. Leadership matters. 

“We need the right leaders who build bridges and take the difficult step to unite, not the easy step to divide.”

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.