‘No one stepped in to help’ – Lesbian couple suffer homophobic abuse in Hate Crime Awareness Week

By Daniel Stephenson
October 25 2019, 10.25

Three days into National Hate Crime Awareness Week, an LGBT couple were verbally abused and spat at whilst walking in London.

On October 18, Adele Bates, 34, and her fiancée, were walking past a bus stop near Hyde Park at around 10pm, when a man shouted out verbal abuse about them being ‘lesbians’, after which he followed the couple and spat at them before walking away.

Ms Bates said: “No one stepped in to help my fiancée and I, or check that we were okay.

“They didn’t feel they could? They didn’t feel safe enough?

“And yet this man felt safe enough to spread hate, verbal and physical abuse and not be questioned.

“Clearly he does not know our laws.”

National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2019 took place from 12– 19 October, headed by Stop Hate UK, one of the leading national organisations working to challenge all forms of hate crime and discrimination, based on any aspect of an individual’s identity.

The London Assembly report on hate crime last year revealed that since 2011 homophobic hate crime is up 81%, racist and religious hate crime is up 107%, disability hate crime is up 215% and transphobic hate crime is up 261%.

We asked Ms Bates if she was surprised by these statistics, she said: “They are totally in line with how I perceive it.

“I shared my recent experience in my online circles – so many well-meaning non-LGBT/minority people said they were so shocked this happens in London.

“Unfortunately, people in minorities are not shocked.

“Prejudice is what we live with.”

Prior to her seven-year relationship with her fiancée, Ms Bates was straight and in a relationship with a man.

She says she has experienced how differently LGBT minorities are treated in comparison to straight people and how simple things like holding hands in public has to be brought into consideration every day.

Saying: “We have to check our own privileges constantly.

“I don’t know what it’s like not to be white – I don’t have experiential knowledge of that.

“If a friend of colour tells me about a prejudice/negative experience it is my responsibility to believe them and be an ally.

“We have to think about it every time we step out of our door. Yes, even in the UK.”

Ms Bates thinks the best course of action required to make a change in the UK is education.

She was a teacher for 17 years and is now an SEN educator. She said: “Clearer guidelines are needed, for example in 2020 the new relationship and sexual education curriculum makes LGBT+ compulsory for secondary education.

“But for primary schools it merely says ‘pupils should know about different types of families and relationships’ – this kind of grey line is not helpful and leads us to situations such as the recent Birmingham LGBT Education protests.

“It feels very much that politicians and big corporate companies want to be seen to be supporting minorities but are still scared to back it up with solid legislation”.

The disparity between primary and secondary LGBT education will continue to raise issues about the efficacy and influence of such lessons upon young minds, especially with the upcoming 2020 implementations.

Ms Bates said: “I feel there is a hole, however, with adults.

“How do we educate on our laws and value systems?

“Education, campaigning and awareness?

“I want to know, how can I be a better ally?”

In reference to the hate crime stats revealed in the London Assembly report, deputy mayor for policing and crime, Sophie Linden, said: “The Mayor takes a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime in London and has invested more than £6million to tackle the issue – far more than any previous Mayor.

“This includes funding for specialist victim support and advocacy, education and awareness, and grass roots project funding.

“The Met has made huge progress in tackling all forms of hate crime but it’s clear more needs to be done to encourage victims to report incidents, and explore new ways of identifying, preventing and challenging hate crime in all its forms.”

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