What is the Pledge?
Freedom to be safe
When a member of the LGBT+ community is verbally or physically abused on a London street because they have dared to hold their partners hand, that is a violation of the dignity and respect which should be extended to all in an inclusive and progressive society. Sadly, existing and extensive research shows that this is an all too common experience for many LGBT+ people:
- In 2014, the number of hate crimes reported in London rose by more than 20 per cent to a total of 11,400 compared to the previous year, according to the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
- The same office reports that since 2012, transphobic hate crime has grown by 86.2% and homophobic crime has gone up by 26.8%.
- As we celebrated Pride in June 2014, there were 175 LGBT+ phobic crimes reported in London, the highest volume recorded in the last three years.
- 41 per cent of UK respondents to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency LGBT Survey in 2013 claimed to have been harassed or discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality.
- The Stonewall Crime Survey in 2013 found that one in six LGB+ individuals were the victim of a hate crime in the previous three years.
- Fully two thirds of those who experienced a hate crime or incident did not report it to anyone, perhaps demonstrating a lack of confidence in the authorities.
Whilst we recognise that some of this increase could be down to better reporting, recording and welcome steps the police have taken, there is clearly more to be done. Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic attacks spread fear and anxiety throughout the community, changing the way we feel we are able to behave, inhibiting us from showing affection in public, stopping us from being open about who we are; it will also be stopping some from being an active part of their communities and playing a full role in society, and that may include taking part in community events like Pride in London. Following the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime’s commitment to tackle hate crime in the capital, Pride in London call for the immediate realisation of the commitments contained in A Hate Crime Reduction Strategy for London. With the loss of several high profile safe spaces for the LGBT+ community in London due to commercial pressures and funding cuts to support groups, we need more than ever to create the right environment on our streets, in our workplaces and leisure venues to ensure that members of our community are not subject to hate crimes in London.
We are calling for
- Inclusion of the LGBT+ community in the London-wide hate crime awareness campaign, leading up to Hate Crime Awareness Week in 2015;
- Improvement to the reporting mechanisms available to victims including allowing reporting via third parties where a victim might feel more confident making a report in this manner and so that the true extent of the problem can be better understood;
- Coordination with Local Authorities to ensure suitable resources are deployed to educate front line staff on hate crime and protection and extension of the Metropolitan Police Service LGBT+ community liaison officers, which is such an important service.
Freedom to be healthy
Members of the LGBT+ communities suffer from a number of health inequalities, including poorer mental and emotional health, higher rates of alcohol and drug use and higher rates of smoking, with the consequent illnesses that stem from these. Trans* and Bi people, black and minority ethnic and young LGBT+ people suffer disproportionately with mental health issues and these groups are also disproportionately likely to suffer homelessness. Sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates in the LGBT+ community reach are reaching crisis levels in London. Gay men, in particular, are disproportionately affected. The rate of HIV infection in London is rising and currently sits at 13 per cent, with gay and bisexual men and Trans* people especially affected. According to Colin Brown of Public Health England (PHE), who attributed the stark rise in London to not enough HIV screening. Large increases in STI diagnoses were seen in gay and bisexual men, including a 26 per cent increase in gonorrhoea diagnoses. Given the importance of regular checks, it is disturbing that a third of gay and bisexual men who have accessed healthcare services in 2012 have had a negative experience related to their sexual orientation. Gender-related healthcare for trans* people is especially problematic, beginning with the diagnosis and treatment of gender dysphoria. Much more needs to be done to ensure that healthcare services are inclusive and welcoming of all of the LGBT+ community.
We are calling for
- An education and information awareness drive across all local boroughs to improve patient care at healthcare services to ensure they are welcoming and open spaces for members of the LGBT+ community.
- An information and education drive to reach LGBT+ communities about accessing healthcare and educating on key health issues, from mental health to drugs and sexually transmitted infections including adequate targeted HIV prevention and sexual health promotion funded specifically for gay and bisexual men and trans communities, who are most at risk of HIV infection.
- The development of joined-up strategies to meet the rising challenge of mental health problems particularly among young LGBT+ people, and often related to homelessness in London.
Freedom to be visible
Stonewall reports that more than half of young lesbian, gay and bisexual young people never hear LGBT issues mentioned in the classroom and four in five are not given information or advice about same-sex relationships. Young LGBT+ people need to hear these issues discussed. Schools can and must do more to provide inclusive spaces for learning about such issues and we are asking London schools to show national leadership by including same-sex relationships within sex and relationships education. The loss of community spaces such as bars and youth clubs have meant there are fewer opportunities for informal learning from peers. Whilst it is clearly vital that work takes place at a city and national level to secure an education system that empowers a younger generation to break free of the cycle of hate, we must not forget about those outside the education system. We want the LGBT+ community to feel comfortable being themselves with any other Londoner, whether they be their employers, colleagues, a service assistant or a bystander on the street. LGBT+ community groups need help to drive attitudinal change. Pride in London provides a platform for them but they need the sustained support and engagement of the city’s political leaders. In addition, there are failures in the legal recognition of non-binary people and the challenge of the invisibility and erasure of Bi people. Lack of visibility also affects the reporting and handling of domestic violence in same sex relationships. People can be less inclined to report domestic violence in same-sex relationships for a wide variety of reasons and there is a lack of recognition that it occurs in same-sex relationships.