This section explains how the law can protect LGBT people from different forms of abuse.
This resource has been compiled with assistance from Pink Law and School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London: Breanne Becker, Frances Ridout, Gabriella Denlew, Julie Pinborough, Karl Laird, Michael Southern-Augustine.
What is a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime?
There are no specific offences of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime. Instead, hate crime against LGBT people is dealt with by the police and legal system by arresting/charging the perpetrator depending on the nature of the offence (these are called regular offences). For example, if you were assaulted by the perpetrator, they would be arrested and/or charged with assault. The homophobic, biphobic or transphobic element is an aggravating feature which is relevant when sentencing takes place.. Any regular criminal offence can be aggravated by having a hate element. Sometimes, a criminal offence where hate is a motivating factor can lead to a longer sentence.
How do I know if I’ve been a victim of a hate crime?
Sometimes it’s really obvious when someone has been homophobic or transphobic towards you, for example if there’s physical violence. But sometimes it’s less clear. For example, if you’re being harassed by a neighbour or someone uses ‘humour’ based on gender rules or sexuality as a put-down.
If you feel that someone has done or said something that’s motivated by prejudice or hate then it’s best to trust your instincts. Even if you’re not sure or just want to talk about it, you can ask Galop for help or advice.
Guidance from the police says that it is for you (as the victim or witness) to decide if you’ve experienced homophobia or transphobia and not for someone else to decide for you! You don’t have to feel responsible for knowing whether or not a crime has been committed against you before getting help.
People often contact Galop because they want advice about something homophobic or transphobic that’s happened to them. Sometimes they want to know more information about what areas of the law cover certain offences.
There is no simple explanation to these laws, but some experiences are more common than others. The examples given below are not exhaustive but cover some of the common forms of abuse.
If you have been a victim of a biphobic, homophobic or transphobic hate crime and want to get advice or support contact Galop.
Advice line and reporting: 020 7704 2040
Online help and reporting: www.galop.org.uk
If you need to get further legal advice on any aspect of your case Galop can put you in contact with Pink Law on 020 7882 3931.