One in five LGBTQ+ people experienced hate crime whilst travelling in London in the past year, a recent study has shown.
Research conducted by passenger watchdog London TravelWatch reveals the extent of the abuse, harassment, and violence faced by the community while out and about in London.
Two-thirds of those asked felt there is always a possible threat of violence or harassment when using public transport.
Michael Roberts, chief executive of London TravelWatch, said: “Our report highlights a community on constant alert when travelling around the capital, unable to express its identity and feeling unsupported by the wider public and the police.
“This situation should not be accepted anywhere in a tolerant society and certainly not in a vibrant, diverse world city such as London.”
Four in five of the survey respondents said that they change their behaviour or appearance to avoid abuse or harassment when travelling.
This includes hiding or disguising LGBTQ+ identities, avoiding interacting or making eye-contact with strangers, and maintaining constant alertness.
London TravelWatch is calling for urgent action to tackle abuse and hate crime against LGBTQ+ people on the capital’s transport network.
London TravelWatch is the official independent transport watchdog, which campaigns to improve journeys and advocates for all people who travel in and around the capital.
Sasha Langeveldt, campaign and advocacy officer of London TravelWatch, said: “We have 12 key recommendations for the transport industry and policing authorities, and we think it’s quite necessary that they address the serious concerns that lead to the barrier of travel.”
London TravelWatch launched research into personal security focusing specifically on the LGBTQ+ community’s travel concerns when moving around London.
They commissioned Galop, the LGBTQ+ anti-abuse charity, to conduct the research who spoke to more than 600 LGBTQ+ people who travel in and around London.
Amy Roch, deputy chief of Galop – the LGBTQ+ anti-abuse charity, said: “We know that experiencing abuse for who you are has long-term impacts on a victim’s sense of safety, with some LGBTQ+ victims having an increased fear of venturing out in public after what has happened to them.
“We’re thankful to London TravelWatch for commissioning this research and recognising the importance of creating a future where every journey in London is one where LGBTQ+ people can travel freely and without fear.”
Some 65% of survey respondents who had experienced abuse or harm whilst travelling said that bystanders didn’t intervene when they witnessed something happening on public transport.
Langeveldt said: “It can make people feel like others who are travelling aren’t able to support them in the way that they can.”
The report highlights that many of the LGBTQ+ people they spoke to have little confidence or trust in the police.
Nearly half of respondents said that seeing the Metropolitan Police did not help them feel safer on public transport.
84% of respondents who said they were victimised on public transport in the last year did not report their experiences to the police, either because they felt they would not be able to do anything, or for fear about how they or their report might be handled.
According to the report, many LGBTQ+ people have an underlying yet serious concern for their everyday safety, but this has been felt by some people more than others, with trans+ people, Deaf and Disabled LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ People of Colour more likely to express this view than the overall sample.
Langeveldt added: “I think it’s very important to also acknowledge that it’s Transgender Awareness Week at the moment and I hope that the report goes a long way in raising awareness and bringing to light some serious concerns that trans+ people experience when travelling in and around London.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Furnell, head of crime and public protection for British Transport Police, said: “Preventing and tackling hate crime is a British Transport Police priority. Everyone has a right to travel without fear and no one should be subjected to violence or harassment because of who they are.
“We work closely with LGBTQ+ charities and the community to ensure that we understand the issues that they face and can take proactive steps to prevent hate crimes.”
Siwan Hayward, TfL’s director of security, policing and enforcement, said: “We are committed to ensuring all passengers and staff are protected from harm and we have a bold and clear campaign across our network which encourages customers and staff to stand in solidarity against hate and abusive behaviour.
“We will continue to work closely with LGBTQ+ groups and stakeholders in response to the London TravelWatch recommendations to ensure that no one ever faces abuse or discrimination for who they are.”
Transport for London is funding hundreds of places on free training sessions to empower people to take action to prevent or reduce harm when they encounter hate crime.
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