Survey reveals shocking level of anti LGBT+ abuse in Rugby - here is what the council plans to do

Rugby Borough Council flew the rainbow Pride flag for the first time in February to mark LGBT History Month.
Rugby Borough Council flew the rainbow Pride flag for the first time in February to mark LGBT History Month.

Violence, verbal abuse and sexual harassment – a report has revealed that the above are an all too common experience for LGBT+ people of our borough.

A study, commissioned by Rugby council and conducted by Warwickshire Pride, revealed almost 50 per cent of LGBT+ Rugbeians experience hatred due to their identity.

The study was undertaken at the end of the last year, with the results published in December.

It found that almost 50 per cent of LGBT+ people in the borough had experienced some kind of hatred for their identity - this level of abuse is double the national average.

The incidents ranged from verbal abuse, repeated physical attacks and sexual harassment. Verbal abuse was the most common.

The survey also found that most hate incidents and hate crimes went unreported, with respondents stating they were reluctant to report incidents and crimes because they were not sure anything would be achieved.

64.2 per cent said they would attend LGBT+ support groups and events – this came after many survey-takers called for more LGBT+ activities.

Rugby council said it is alarmed at the results, and, together with Warwickshire Pride and EQuIP (a Rugby-based charity which promotes equality), it has formed a plan to help tackle the issues the survey uncovers.

Raj Chand, Rugby Borough Council’s head of communities and homes and lead officer for equalities, said: “We were alarmed to hear that the borough has not provided LGBT+ communities with the warm welcome or support that we would like.

“While this is a problem for all of the borough’s communities to address, we are clear that Rugby Borough Council will provide community leadership to help make Rugby a welcoming place for everybody.

“The actions that we have agreed with Warwickshire Pride and with EQuIP will involve some of our wider partners, such as the police, the community wardens and BID rangers, along with businesses and other organisations that want to get involved.

“Together we can make sure that Rugby is a safe, supportive place for all of our communities.”

The plan proposes co-operation with other organisations to explore how support services and safe places for LGBT+ people can be developed.

Other actions include working with Warwickshire Pride to enrol all frontline Rugby council staff onto
LGBT+ awareness training.

Acting on one of the findings of the Warwickshire Pride survey, which stated hate crimes and hate incidents against LGBT+ people in Rugby are rarely reported, the plan seeks to raise awareness of hate crime.

Outreach work has also been suggested, with proposals to use upcoming events like Rugby Bikefest to raise awareness of hate crime.

Another action, already implemented, was the flying of the LGBT+ rainbow flag above the town hall for LGBT History Month.

Rugby council is also exploring the idea of a Rugby Pride event.

The plan will be further developed, and the Advertiser will follow its progress.

Respondents' experiences

A gay woman’s experience

A gay woman who responded to the survey shared her experience of sexual harassment on a night out in Rugby. She said: “I was hit on by a straight male.

"When told I was gay he became overly sexual. He sexually assaulted me by touching my behind and talking obscenely and when rejected became verbally aggressive.

"I told the police on duty but was told to just go on with my night. Not been out for the past few years because of this incident. I don’t feel safe.”

Gay man abused in town centre

Readers are advised that the following contains offensive phrases – which have been kept to convey the problem.

“Verbal abuse is a regular issue for me as a gay man. I was abused last week in Rugby and it mainly stems at the way I dress and people make comments like ‘tranny’, ‘Lilly Savage’, ‘Thai boy’, ‘who’s he trying to fool’ etc.

"Rugby town centre is really bad and abuse is almost guaranteed . Young people give out lots of abuse, but some older people do make comments too.”

'I needed surgery after attack'

“November in 2017 I was the victim of a homophobic attack. I was hospitalised because of it and had to undergo two surgeries.

I have already had one [operation] to fit a plate to aid the repair of my shattered collar bone. The second is to remove the plate.” Another respondent said they have been attacked three times.

Victim told ‘kids will be kids’

The following contains offensive language. “Got called a ‘tranny’ at college, reported it to tutors and got told ‘kids will be kids’.”

Another person said that when they came out as transgender (female to male) at their old school they were bullied and told they could not be a boy.

If you would like to learn more about hate crime and hate incidents and why it is important to report them, visit www.reporthatenow.com

To view Warwickshire Pride's report in full, visit www.warwickshirepride.co.uk/research/4593757562

For support with LGBT+ issues, you can visit switchboard.lgbt