University students’ fear of hate crimes against their sexual orientation has risen by 95 per cent in just one year.
Cai Wilshaw, founder of LGBT Leaders, is not surprised at these results, and said that university leaders have a responsibility to take action in supporting the LGBT community.
“On campus, students need universities and student unions to take a firm no-tolerance stance on hate crime of any form, and a commitment to increasing vital student support services and funding for LGBT societies who do so much valuable welfare work,” Wilshaw told The Independent.
He also said that Brexit and the political rhetoric during the US election campaign made many minority groups fear for their safety.
Last year, 19 per cent of LGBT students said they were worried about hate crimes based on sexual orientation. This year, the figure has increased to 37 per cent.
According to a report published in October by Galop, an LGBT anti-violence charity that supports victims of hate crime, homophobic hate crime has increased by 147 per cent in the three months which followed Brexit.
Galop’s chief executive, Nik Noone, said: “UK responses to hate crime are among the best in the world but our hate crime laws are far from perfect. The highest prison sentence a court can give for homophobic, transphobic or disability common assault is six months. That is just a quarter of the two-year maximum for race and faith common assault. This disparity needs redress.”
A government spokesman said: “In a Britain that works for everyone, hatred against a person because of their sexual orientation will not be tolerated.
“We welcome Galop’s recognition that UK hate crime laws are among the best in the world, but there is more to be done – and the government’s hate crime action plan, published in July, included measures to encourage prosecutors to pursue tougher sentences for all hate crimes, including those targeting the LGBT community.”