‘Being queer isn’t a disease’: Young queer people on the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks
‘The fear of getting caught carrying out a homophobic attack is minimal’
Since June 2021, there have been seven heavily reported homophobic attacks on queer people across the UK.
CW: Explicit pictures and discussions of homophobic violence and hate crimes
Recently in Edinburgh, a married gay couple were punched, kicked and spat at in front of a crowd. Shortly after this incident in Birmingham’s gay village, another couple were attacked with broken bottles, one of them was left unconscious and another was severely cut.
Just a couple of weeks ago it was reported that a 50-year-old man had sadly passed away after being discovered with a fatal head injury in east London. The Metropolitan Police believe the killing was motivated by homophobia and a man has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
The string of heavily reported hate crimes began in Liverpool, on three separate occasions in June where three different people were attacked in the space of a few weeks. One of these three men was 19-year-old Josh Ormrod who spoke to The Tab about his experience.
As well as Josh, The Tab also spoke to Kolade Ladipo, a young queer man who was assaulted and verbally abused three times in one night just one week ago in Liverpool. Both Josh and Kolade chatted to us about what they think has caused the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes and what non-queer people and witnesses of the crime can do to help. This is what they had to say:
‘I’m the one who gets to define myself’
Kolade was attacked and abused three times on 30 August when he was on a night out with his friends in Liverpool. He describes each separate event as a homophobic attack but tells The Tab this wasn’t the first time he experience hate like this. Kolade says, “I have experienced homophobia since the age of about 15. Experiencing this violence isn’t going to change me.” However Kolade did say what physically happened to him on this night was the most violent attack he’s ever been the victim of.
The night started when Kolade was at a music event where his mates were performing. He was at the front of the crowd when he clocked a man, visibly older than him, staring at him. That man then continued to pour a bottle of water over Kolade and said, “get the fuck out of here you batty man”. Kolade decided to leave the venue, upset and angry, but he came back in when his friends performed. He tells The Tab it wasn’t until half an hour later the man was removed from the venue.
Kolade continued to dance and club with his friends. Then it’s when things took a turn for the worse, Kolade went home with his mates to get changed into comfy clothes before going out to get food. On his way into the kebab shop, he was met by a different man before who blocked the door and allegedly called Kolade a “batty boy” to which Kolade responded “yeah I am”. Kolade’s friend then stood in front of the alleged perpetrator before the man proceeded to punch Kolade in the face causing an injury to his mouth.
The attack happened in front of a crowd who did nothing to help Kolade despite him being on the floor spitting blood out of his mouth. Kolade said if someone would have stepped in at any point, it could have changed the whole situation. He told The Tab, “No one did anything when I was on the floor spitting blood out of my mouth. Just being active, I know it’s hard, but even saying to the perpetrator ‘don’t say that’ can change the whole scenario for the victim.”
A spokesperson from Stonewall, a leading LGBTQ+ charity in the UK, Sasha Misra said: “LGBTQ+ people can’t be made responsible for the attacks on us. Instead, it is vital that as a society we address the anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes which cause these attacks – from ensuring that victims and survivors are better supported by police and local services, to teaching people about LGBTQ+ acceptance from a young age.”
‘I’m forever grateful to the bouncers who saved my life’
Josh Ormrod was on a night out with his friends in Liverpool back on June 17 when he was violently attacked. He said a few of his friends left but himself and another mate stayed until close. It was when Josh was leaving the club, he was attacked and left fearing his eye socket was broken. Josh, who identifies as bisexual, told The Tab he was left fearing for his life and if it wasn’t for the doormen on the busy street who forced the attacker off him, he thought he may have died. He says, “Once the bouncers clocked I was being attacked and I was on the floor getting kicked, they all swarmed in and got the attacker off me and held him there until the police came. I’m forever grateful to those bouncers, they quite literally saved my life.”
Sasha Misra from Stonewall told The Tab the anti-LGBTQ+ attacks taking place across the UK right now are a clear reminder that queer people are still at the risk of being attacked just because of who they are. She says, “Our research shows that many LGBTQ+ people still don’t feel safe going about their daily lives, with three in 10 LGBTQ+ people avoiding certain streets because they do not feel safe and more than a third of LGBTQ+ people say that they don’t feel comfortable holding their partners hand in public.”
Josh is one of those three in 10, he says he doesn’t go near the area where he was attacked anymore because it causes him anxiety having to relive the trauma. His mates are pretty good about it he says, “We don’t chat about the attack anymore and we just walk around where it happened, I don’t have to ask to avoid the area, they just do it. I have a lot of supportive people around me, a lot of whom are part of the community which is very beneficial to me because they understand my fear. And my straight friends are equally as good, they’re there for me in terms of support and aftermath.”
Josh believes understanding the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime is also part of finding a balance. He told The Tab: “Is it just because it’s being reported so much at the moment that it’s getting the attention, or is it that there’s more violence? These attacks happen all the time. They’re only really being picked up by the media now because of people like me who make it everyone’s problem.”
Josh continued: “Everyone has been cooped up for so long. You know people are going to go out and start a fire for no reason. It’s targeting a vulnerable group of people which makes someone feel tough in their minds. We can’t fight back every time.”
Stonewall published statistics which revealed only 12 per cent of young queer people aged 18 to 24 are likely to report being the victim of a hate crime to the police. Josh believes this statistic is another reason why such a large string of attacks have taken place in the recent months. He says, “People are going to look at the first guy who attacked the queer man in Liverpool and they’re going to think they won’t get caught for it if he didn’t.” He continued, “I think that the people who are carrying out homophobic attacks are taking comfort in the fact that if one person can get away with it, they can as well. The fear of being caught is minimal.”
Thankfully following on from both of their attacks, Kolade and Josh are receiving the support they need. They are both using being victims of a hate crime to help change the way queer people are treated in society. Josh says, “In some twisted way, I am grateful it happened. Because if it had to happen to somebody then I’m glad it happened to me because now I can use that and use the platform I have been given to try and make the changes I feel we need to see as a community, in order to feel safe.”
If you or someone you know has been affected by this story you can contact Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ helpline, on 0300 330 0630 or visit their website. You can also find help through young people’s charity The Mix, and Galop, the LGBTQ+ anti-violence charity.