By Catherine Tanner, LLM Student
The effects of violent homophobic attacks are far-reaching and devastating for those involved. It was reported by the UK government that from 2018-19 the police recorded 14,491 crimes committed against people because of their sexual orientation. A further 2,333 offences were recorded in that same year against transgender people because of their gender identity. According to Stonewall UK, only one out of five hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is reported to the police, leading the number of attacks against the LGBT community to be far higher than that being reported by the government.
Currently, whilst it is prohibited under the Equality Act 2010 to discriminate against people due to their sexual orientation, there are no specific offences of homophobic, bi-phobic or transphobic hate crime. Instead, hate crimes against the LGBT community are dealt with by the police and legal system by arresting and charging the perpetrator depending on the nature of the offence. If, for example, a gay man was assaulted, the perpetrator would be arrested and/or charged with assault; the homophobic element would be an aggravating factor that would be taken into account when sentencing takes place.
There are a number of reasons why people do not wish to report hate crimes, one of the key factors being an unwillingness to go to the police, for fear of not being believed or the case not going anywhere. It was reported in December 2019 by The Independent that an analysis of Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service figures demonstrated that the proportion of hate crimes being prosecuted in the UK has plummeted from a quarter to less than one in ten in the past six years. Reporting LGBT attacks are not only beneficial to the community, but to you as an individual if you wish to claim criminal injuries compensation.
Criminal injuries compensation is provided by the government when there is no one else who you can pursue for compensation for your injuries. Here at SHU Law, we are more than happy to advise you through this process, and help you get the best possible result. If you have suffered an attack because of your sexual orientation and wish to claim criminal injuries compensation, you must have reported the attack to the police, and the claim must be made within two years of the attack, unless it was not possible for you to have done this, for example if your mental or physical health stopped you.
Criminal injuries compensation does not just cover the injury that you received; it is possible to receive compensation for loss of earnings. You can claim for loss of earnings if, because of the injury you suffered from the attack, you were left unable to work or had limited ability to work for 28 weeks or more. If your injuries left you out of work for less than 28 weeks, you will not be able to claim for this, however, there are other possible claims you could make. It is also possible to claim compensation for any paid expenses to cover the cost of care, home adaptations or paid expenses, and any damage to physical aids that were incurred as a result of your attack.
If you have been a victim of a violent attack because of your sexual orientation and have not yet reported it, you should report it directly to the police as soon as possible. You can also use an online reporting facility such as True Vision at www.report-it.org.uk that will send your report directly to your local police force, so you do not have to visit a police station if this worries you. There are also many local organisations that can help you report the incident or crime.
Once you have reported the crime to the police, SHU Law is more than happy to advise you on the best possible action to help you get the right result for you. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, our offices are currently closed, but we can offer appointments over the telephone or via video conferencing. Contact us by phone on 0114 225 6666, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via our website, www.shulaw.co.uk.
If you need further support during this difficult time, the LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop provides support via the telephone, email, text and WhatsApp. Contact them via email at email@example.com, or via their website, www.galop.org.uk/hatecrime.