CPS Pride Month Hate Crime Round Table
As part of Pride Month, our CPS National Lead for Hate Crime, Lionel Idan, hosted a Hate Crime Round Table discussion alongside Saba Ali, Gender Equity and Hate Crime Team ESS Co-Founder, and Lionel's NPCC counterpart lead for Hate Crime, DCC Mark Hamilton, OBE and his police National Advisor, Paul Giannasi, OBE.
The Round Table featured three special guests representing Chelsea Pride, Quins Pride and Stonewall. The panel were also joined by a number of prosecutors who had successfully dealt with a range of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crimes including the first ever Chelsea 'Rent Boy' case.
Tracy Brown was the first of the special guest speakers to address the Round Table. Tracy is the Chair of Chelsea Pride, co-Chair of the rainbow wall the Wales LGBTQ+ supporters group, and co-Chair of Pride in cricket. It was Tracy's tireless campaigning that helped lead to the criminalisation of the Chelsea 'Rent boy' chant. Tracy talked about how, over the past 30 years, she had witnessed the ebb and flow of hate crime with fans even turning on her when she first started to wear the Rainbow flag. Tracy described how she had 'chosen to be the change' and that 'any abuse directed at the LGBTQ+ community did not just affect her, it affected everyone in society'. Tracy talked about the impact of such hate crime on the mental health of victims, and victims not feeling safe and choosing to avoid games and stadiums in general. Tracy and Saba stressed the need for a standard response by all clubs to such behaviours.
Emily Hamilton was the second of our special guest speakers. Emily is Vice President of Strategic Change - RS Group PLC, Director for Trans in the City and Chair of Quins Pride. Emily shared her personal journey of struggling to find her identity, having played rugby competitively and having served in the army at a time when it was illegal to be gay, and always knowing that she was different to the other people. Emily talked about her initial struggles with her identity which had even led her to being subjected to sol-called ‘conversion therapy’ at one point, as well as attempting suicide twice. Emily shared her experience of having suffered five assaults in the last three years in comparison to zero prior to her transition. In similar vein to Tracy, Emily described various abhorrent threats on social media and in person, as well as being spat on and sworn at which had the effect of leaving her with a sense of shame. Emily described how hate crime behaviours were more subtle in Rugby grounds and whereas football had overt chanting, Rugby was more about comments being made or shouted out. Those reported were often simply rejected from games with no further action taken as many tended not to be season ticket holders and clubs were keen to avoid any stigma attaching to them. Emily highlighted behaviours outside the larger grounds – such as for internationals or ‘marquee events’ as being rife with all day drinking a contributory cause. Emily herself had been subjected to abuse being hurled at her while walking the short distance from a game to her car. No current premiership rugby player had ‘come out’ which speaks volumes. Players in other sports had been subjected to threats and assaults. Emily concluded by saying, ‘Quins Pride is my recreation but it has now become another point of campaigning and human rights advocacy in my life and I wish that was not necessary.
Erin Williams was the third of our special guest speakers. Erin is the Sports Programmes Manager for Stonewall and she talked about touch points in physical activities, whether at the gym, watching sports or participating in it, with hate crime existing across all aspects. Research by Stonewall showed that 1 in 10 LGBTQ+ people experienced hate crime at one of each touch point. This figure was even higher at 1 in 5 when it was a person of Colour or Trans. Gyms were an environment where hate crime against LGBTQ+ people was particularly rife with 1 in 4 Trans, 1 in 6 Disabled, and 1 in 10 Black people experiencing homophobic, biphobic and transphobic behaviours, including allies for simply wearing rainbow laces or a wristband. Erin touched upon the Rainbow Laces campaign which had started in 2013 and had seen over a million people lace up in support of LGBTQ+ inclusion in sports. Erin shared her own personal experience of going through the criminal justice system as a victim of hate crime stressed ‘the need for engagement, awareness and education to tackle prejudice and acts of hate.’
Mark Hamilton stressed the importance of building trust and confidence and highlighted that even LGBTQ+ officers themselves were reluctant to report a hate crime perpetrated against them. Police services ought to respond from a single consistent position and not in a myriad of differing ways. Paul Giannasi echoed the fragmented nature of the responses of different police forces across the country and touched upon the difficulties in trying to get consistency. Mark highlighted the explosion in online hate crime and the relationship with offline hate crime which was very real. 20 years ago, things were somewhat different in the absence of today's online technological advances and with a Global narrative now attacking the rights of all protected characteristics, this had created a very fertile ground for all forms of hate crime.
Commenting on the Panel afterwards, Lionel said: "This Round Table shone a spotlight on the types of hate crime perpetrated against the LGBTQ+ community within environments whose purpose is to provide a positive recreational experience for all.
"As the panellists highlighted, ensuring that there are consequences for the actions of those who perpetrate these crimes is key to stamping it out.
"We heard about the impact on LGBTQ+ couples of not being able to show affection outside, inside or en route to sporting events, and on members of the community having to 'hide' themselves and modify their behaviour out of fear of being targeted. This is completely unacceptable.
"While some of the successful prosecutions shared at the Round Table are a positive step in the right direction, there is still so much more to be done to build and retain the confidence of the community and to bring more offenders to justice.
"As those in attendance all echoed, hate crime is not a football, rugby, gym or sporting problem, it is a society problem. We all have a role to play in ensuring that we stamp it out."
Successful Hate Crime Prosecutions
Last month, prosecutors in London South successfully prosecuted a man for using the homophobic Chelsea 'rent boy' chant at a Chelsea v Everton football match. Ethan Davies was sentenced to a £75 fine which was increased to £100 to reflect the hate crime element of the offence. He was also ordered to pay costs of £85, a Victim surcharge of £20 and issued with a three-year Football Banning Order.
This followed the first ever successful prosecution last year, by the same team of London South prosecutors, of a defendant who had used the same homophobic slur at a game between Chelsea and Spurs at Stamford Bridge. Nigel Carrington was fined more than £400 and at the conclusion of the case, Tracy Brown poignantly said, 'We need to continue working hard to keep homophobia, biphobia and transphobia out of the sport and society'.
Last month, the team also brought to justice, a defendant who had targeted two victims during a rally in parliament square and subjected them to transphobic and homophobic abuse. Michael Roberts was successfully prosecuted and sentenced to a 12-month community order including 100 hours of unpaid work which was increased to 180 hours to reflect the hate crime element of the offence. The defendant was also ordered to pay compensation of £250 to the two victims.
The London South Team are currently handling a number of cases where the homophobic chant has been used, as well as a case involving the Drag Queen, Aida AD, who was subjected to transphobic abuse at the Tate Britain where she had attended for a book reading.