One-in-five LGBTQ Londoners say they’ve been victims of hate crime on public transport

Survey of more than 600 LGBTQ+ people found 43% “often feel uneasy or ‘on edge’ when using public transport”, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

credit British Transport Police

One-in-five LGBTQ+ Londoners has experienced hate crime on the capital’s public transport, a new report has revealed.

The survey of more than 600 LGBTQ+ people by London TravelWatch also found that 43% of respondents “often feel uneasy or ‘on edge’ when using public transport”.

Michael Roberts, London TravelWatch’s chief executive, said the research “highlights a community on constant alert when travelling around the capital, unable to express its identity and feeling unsupported by the wider public and the police”.

Four in five respondents (82%) said they change their behaviour out of concern for their safety while using the tube, trains or buses.

Report author Sasha Langeveldt told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that this could include whether or not they hold hands with their partner, but that it also extended to aspects of their appearance.

“Whether or not they, for example, wear trousers instead of skirts and dresses, or wear make-up or other identifiers which could possibly give away their identity”, she said.

She added that such safety concerns were a “barrier to travel” for some LGBTQ+ Londoners.

Some 65% of survey respondents who experienced abuse or harm when travelling in London said bystanders witnessed the incident but did not intervene.

The survey also found that many homophobic, biphobic or transphobic incidents on London’s public transport network are likely to go unreported.

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And 84% of those who said they were victimised in some way on public transport in the past year did not report their experiences to the police or other formal support services. Almost half of that number said this was because they did not trust the police.

The report’s publication follows a number of homophobic attacks in the capital, including one outside the Two Brewers bar in Clapham in August, and then at a Brixton bus stop, which saw a couple heading home from Black Pride treated in hospital less than a week later.

Transport for London’s (TfL) director of security, Siwan Hayward, said the organisation has “a bold and clear campaign across our network which encourages customers and staff to stand in solidarity against hate and abusive behaviour”.

She said staff “are also trained in how to support our customers and deal with reports seriously and with compassion, and earlier this year we also set out clear guidance on how customers can safely intervene if they witness incidents of hate crime”.

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Furnell, head of public protection at British Transport Police, said: “We work closely with LGBT charities and the community to ensure that we understand the issues that they face and can take proactive steps to prevent hate crimes.

He added that officers “conduct highly visible patrols and dedicated operations across the railway” and that “with access to more than 150,000 CCTV cameras across the rail network they can quickly identify offenders and make arrests”.

Anyone who sees or experiences a hate crime can report it to the British Transport Police by texting 61016.

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