A spate of high-profile homophobic attacks has shocked and angered many people in Britain.
The latest attack happened in Liverpool last Sunday when up to 20 young people set upon James Parkes, an off-duty trainee police officer, while he was out with friends.
Parkes was badly beaten. Six teenagers were arrested on suspicion of assault and bailed.
This horrific attack follows the death of Ian Baynham, a 62 year old man who died after he suffered homophobic violence near Trafalgar Square in central London. Three teenagers have been arrested in relation to the incident.
The general climate of homophobia has been boosted by the now notorious column by the Daily Mail’s Jan Moir about the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately.
Moir wrote, “Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one…
“Once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see.”
More than 25,000 people complained to the Press Complaints Commission about the article, the most complaints it has ever received regarding a single article.
Nick Griffin, the leader of the fascist British National Party, was also able to flaunt his racism and homophobia on the BBC’s Question Time show last week.
Griffin said, “A lot of people find the sight of two men kissing in public a bit creepy. I understand that homosexuals don’t understand that, but that is how a lot of us feel.”
The number of reported homophobic crimes in London rose by almost a fifth in the last year. There were 1,192 homophobic offences reported in the year to September, up from 1,008 the previous year.
A study by the LGBT rights group Stonewall last year found that one in five lesbians and gay men in London had experienced a homophobic incident in the past three years. Three quarters of them did not report the incident to the police.
But LGBT campaigners are standing up against these attacks.
The Facebook group 17-24-30 has organised a candlelit vigil against hate crime and to remember Ian Baynham in Trafalgar Square, central London, between 8pm and 10pm, this Friday 30 October.
Organiser Mark Healey said, “We need to unite against all forms of hate crime, stand together and say out loud that this is no longer acceptable in our society.
“We need to do what we can to prevent this happening again.”