July 5, 2019 at 12:00 pm EDT | by Alex Cooper
UK sees 81 percent rise in transphobic hate crimes

Hate crimes against transgender people in England, Scotland and Wales have risen 81 percent, the BBC reported last week.

The news service obtained the data from 36 out of 44 police departments throughout Great Britain. The data showed an increase to 1,944 reported hate crimes based on gender identity compared to 1,073 in 2016-2017.

The U.K.’s Home Office told the BBC the uptick in the numbers of hate crimes is due to an increase in victims reporting them. 

Two police forces — Suffolk Constabulary and Merseyside Police — saw a decrease in hate crimes, while both the West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire Police saw a threefold increase, according to the service.

In response to the BBC’s report, the U.K. LGBTI rights group Stonewall said the data shows just how much discrimination trans people face daily.

The organizations’ director of campaigns, policy and research, Laura Russell, pointed to the group’s Trans Report that found two out of five trans people were victims of a hate crime or incident within the previous year. She continued that Stonewall’s research also shows the significance of underreporting these crimes.

 “These statistics are the real-life consequences of a society where transphobia is everywhere — from the front pages of newspapers, to social media, and on our streets,” Russell said. “We need people to realize how severe the situation is for trans people, and to be active in standing up as a visible ally to trans people, in whatever way they can.”

“Stonewall works with police services and criminal justice agencies across Britain to ensure LGBT people feel more comfortable reporting abuse,” Russell added.

The group’s Trans Report, which was based on responses from more than 800 trans and non-binary people, found that over half of the people included in the study were closeted at work because they were scared of being discriminated against. Thirty-four percent of the respondents had been discriminated against at a cafe or bar because of their gender identity and 44 percent of the study’s respondents even avoided going on certain streets.

Last month, the Guardian reported hate crimes against LGBTI people rose by over 140 percent from 2013-2018. The outlet also noted the vast increase in transphobic attacks, reporting that about half of hate crimes reported against trans people were violent offenses.

Since the U.K.’s referendum to leave the European passed in 2016, hate crimes across the board have increased, according to several studies and media reports. In May, the Guardian reported 71 percent of people from ethnic minority backgrounds said they faced discrimination based on their race. That number was up from 58 percent in January 2016, six months before the Brexit vote. Following Brexit, the LGBTI anti-violence group Galop released research showing a large spike of anti-LGBTQ violence. The group found an increase of almost 150 percent in the 3 months after the referendum.

Alex Cooper is a journalist based in the Balkans, mostly covering Eastern Europe and Eurasia. You can follow him on Twitter @wgacooper.

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