Warwickshire Pride’s banners were stolen from Leamington Spa town centre on two occasions (Image supplied)
Warwickshire Pride has reportedly been ‘directly targeted’ by homophobic abuse in the build up to the LGBT+ event, with organisers being told “gays should be killed.”
The parade is due to be held in Leamington Spa on Sunday, August 17. Police have yet to respond to the threatening comment, which was left on the event’s Facebook page.
Organisers also report that banners advertising the Pride parade have been stolen on two occasions in the past week. Daniel Browne, chair of Warwickshire Pride, told PinkNews that they “definitely feel directly targeted.”
“All events happening here put up banners to let people know their events are happening, and we are the only one to have had banners taken,” he said, adding that they tend to see a spike in such incidents around Pride.
Last year Warwickshire Pride fundraisers were allegedly subjected to over 100 hate incidents in just three hours, with flags and posters being stolen and staff receiving verbal abuse from the public.
A stall in a local shopping centre was reportedly vandalised, and banners, flags and posters were ripped down.
Browne said comments such as “that’s disgusting”, “I don’t wanna see that”, and “for f*ck’s sake, look at that” were made by people approaching the stall. Police treated this as a hate crime.
“I am gay and incidents like this in my home town sadly don’t surprise me,” Browne said. “I work all year round with people who are subjected to physical attacks and verbal abuse just because they happen to be LGBT+.
“There is support and that support is growing. However, hate is growing too and Warwickshire is actually a difficult place to be LGBT+. Physical attacks and verbal abuse are common.
“We’re in 2019 and things appear to be starting to move backwards.”
Browne was unable to say whether he suspects one or more people behind the vandalism, but noted that the ‘homophobic’ Facebook comments were left by multiple people, with one individual being warned to stop by police.
Apparently undeterred, local news made no mention of the abuse and reported that Warwickshire Pride would be “the biggest and best” yet.
Rise in LGBT+ hate crimes
The abuse faced by Warwickshire Pride reflects a worrying increase in the rate of hate crimes in England and Wales.
Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes have more than doubled in the past four years, with offences like harassment, assault and stalking, increasing by 144 percent between 2014 and 2018.
Almost half of the hate crimes committed on trans people were violent, with 46 percent being offences like assault and grievous bodily harm. For homophobic hate crimes, 40 percent were violent in 2018.
Taz Edwards-White, of equality and diversity organisation Metro, told The Guardian: “I believe [the tension] is a direct result of people feeling unsafe due to rise of the rightwing political movement.”