Homophobic violence

File:Adriaen Brouwer 002.jpgAll this stuff about Arizona. Blogger wrote that comparing gay rights to civil rights was like comparing the Holocaust to a stubbed toe, and one of his commenters compared a gay commenter to Satan. Well- slavery then segregation were appalling, but so were legal persecution and homophobic violence. Quickly Googling, I found this Guardian article and commented with a link. One responded that the deaths are suicides, so “that doesn’t quite equate to the Holocaust”, and another that gangs are known for random acts of violence so the attack might have been for any reason.

Is it good news that people don’t often get murdered for being gay? In London, there has not been a homophobic murder since 2009/10. I read the words “transphobic murder” (one investigated in London in 2009/10) and feel a multitude of feelings, and I do not like it being compared to a stubbed toe. There are not many of us: fewer than three thousand gender recognition certificates have been issued, so one of us murdered gives a murder rate thirty times that of straights. I know it is too small a sample for accurate comparison- so?

Lower down the scale, in 2012/13 in London there were fifty transphobic and 1008 homophobic hate crimes reported. I think back to experiences: no, I did not report when that man tried to push me in front of a car. There was a scuffle on a pavement, with me and him as witnesses, and he did not succeed. My word is not proof beyond reasonable doubt, so such a case would get nowhere, not as far as the CPS, even if I could identify him; and I wanted to go home and calm down, not get something done about it. In surveys as opposed to crime reports, a trans woman might https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/49/Adriaen_Brouwer_-_Brawling_Peasants_-_WGA03305.jpg/315px-Adriaen_Brouwer_-_Brawling_Peasants_-_WGA03305.jpgexperience what is a crime once a week. My friend, knowing the streets better than I, insisted on ferrying me by car rather than let me use buses alone at night.

The British Crime Survey asks people their experience of crime, their confidence in the police and their sexuality. 0.7% in London say we are gay. That low percentage is because this is a doorstep survey and people do not wish to reveal their sexuality: the Government uses the figure 5-7% of the population. The BCS says that 57% of hate crimes go unreported, and one in fourteen LGB people experience violence each year, compared to one in 33 of the general population.

This is not like Russia with organised groups seeking out gay people to humiliate. It is a Civil Rights issue. It is not as bad as what black people suffered in parts of the US until the sixties; and that is no excuse for it. Seeking to diminish the violence against us is seeking to excuse it.

9 thoughts on “Homophobic violence

  1. Funny how it seems that most people insisting the LGBT rights struggle is a minor blip in human society, without the scale or pain of other historic examples of oppression, are actually not members of the LGBT community or their supporters. So I wonder – how did they arrive at their expert assessment that prejudice and violence against LGBT people are no big deal?

    A lot of people in the American press right now, even people who call themselves liberals or gay rights supporters, are working hard to downplay the connection between many gay discrimination laws popping up on US state legislatures, and the racial Jim Crow days of the early 20th century. Why are they so keen to deny the connection between these two obvious manifestations of bigotry? They like to claim that while racists of the 1950’s and 60’s did cite the Bible as a reason for continued segregation, they weren’t justified in doing so, while homophobes who cite the Bible as reason for segregating LGBT people have a legitimate basis for their argument. Ah, I see. We know now that the Bible is not racist, but it IS homophobic. Let’s see how that sounds in 50 years – though it’s tragic that it’ll take that long.

    I’m a married cisgender woman, and when a family member who is opposed to gay rights read my blog and asked me why I kept focusing on LGBT prejudice when there are things going on in the world that really matter, the lack of empathy left me in tears, so I can only imagine how it feels to be dismissed if you suffer the prejudice yourself instead of just seeing your friends and family suffer it.


    • Comparison of relative levels of suffering is invidious. This video left me weeping and writhing in horror:

      (found at Justin Lee’s blog).

      The risk of comparing anti-gay prejudice with anti-Black prejudice is that we get drawn into comparing the amount of suffering. It might be better simply to look at the prejudice we suffer. Twice as likely to suffer violent crime in London. How’s about that? Or look at Red Pepper: for some reason anger, hatred and resentment from various sources including the aftermath of Colonialism has been focused on gay people.

      Perhaps it does not matter if the inclusion of one or two words in Romans 1 or 1 Cor 6 is homophobic. It helps us realise that the Bible is not a unity, but “two anthologies of writings that have some internal coherence but which contrast strongly with one another in historical detail and theological import.” (I happened to be blogging on Douglas Gwyn as you commented, so I might as well quote him.) I would add that the conflicts are within as well as between the Old and New Testaments.


      • That is a very sad video. It’s a very small sample of kids and I don’t know how they were selected, but still sad.

        Yes, trying to compare different brands of suffering is often not productive – for example, I’m in bed with a back injury; will I feel better if you come over and tell me all about how you broke your leg one time? Probably not.

        However, I think historical context is always important, and we should never forget it. When an American legislator introduces a bill that would let a restaurant owner explicitly deny service to someone he thought was gay, and have the full power of the law behind him, it is laughable to me when that same legislator and his supporters argue that the restaurant owner fifty years ago who would have turned a customer away for being black, with the full support of the law, has nothing to do with the current scenario. If we forget the first or fail to make the comparison, will we remember how poisonous the current laws are? Also, that’s not to say that black people don’t still suffer enormous prejudice, as LGBT people still do.

        Of course the Bible’s not a unity. Granted, I was raised an ardent believer and no longer am. Studying the creation and history of the Bible, including the languages it appeared in over time, taught me what a centuries-long patchwork it is. I find it a fascinating linguistic and cultural history, and a source of sometimes troubling, sometimes worthwhile philosophy, not spiritual truth.


        • That experiment was done under controlled conditions by psychologists. This video says it has been recreated by a high school student. I shared it on Facebook, and someone commented that the choice might be affected by whether the researcher is black or white; and for all we know the children were told to pick the white doll, or there were other children who picked the black doll as preferable; but I think at least some children still react in that way, which I find perturbing.


          • Yes, I agree what we can see is very perturbing. As a journalist, I try not to accept any study or experiment I see at face value unless I know how it was devised, how the sample was selected, how the info was gathered, etc. But the bottom line is my own (future) kids can have a variety of dolls. Their family is already quite multi-colored so I hope their toys are too.


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