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As LGBT+ hate crime rises – how can allies help?

LGBT+ anti-abuse charity Galop says demand for support spikes during Pride season.

Two queer friends talking in a living room
There has been a 37.5% increase in reported anti-LGBT+ hate crimes in the UK in the last two years (Alamy/PA)

Pride season may be a time of celebration for the LGBT+ community, but it’s also when LGBT+ anti-abuse charity Galop sees a spike in demand for support services.

Last year, the charity reported seeing a 60% rise in LGBT+ hate crime victims coming to them for support, compared with any other three-month period during the year.

To highlight the issue, Galop has teamed up with creative studio Gravity Road and the ADOT Foundation this Pride month to launch their ‘It’s Not All Sunshine And Rainbows’ campaign.

Featuring the voices of LGBT+ celebrities and allies – including Dr Who star David Tennant, comedian and I Kissed A Girl narrator Charley Marlowe, and former Coronation Street star Charlie Condou – an immersive digital experience bringing the campaign to life is being shown at Outernet’s Now Trending space in London until the end of June. Supporters can also donate £2 to support Galop’s services.

Back in 2015, the UK was rated first place in ILGA’s Rainbow Europe Index of ‘safe’ countries for LGBT+ people – but plummeted to 14th place in 2022 and dropped even further to 17th place in 2023.

With this in mind, what role can allies play when it comes to LGBT+ hate crime?

Point them towards support

Ben Kernighan, Galop’s Interim CEO, said: “Anti-LGBT+ hate incidents affect the majority of the LGBT+ community. Three in five respondents to Galop’s Hate Crime Survey said they had experienced abuse as a result of their LGBT+ identity. But most people who have experienced a hate incident don’t know that specialist help exists to support them through it.

“One of the simplest things an ally can do to help their LGBT+ friends and family is to let them know how they can access that support. Galop’s National Hate Crime Helpline has been running since 2021 and has supported thousands of LGBT+ people.

“You can also access direct support from Galop through Zoteria, a hate incident support app we created with Stonewall and Vodafone, which allows LGBT+ and allies to flag anti-LGBT+ hate incidents.”

In terms of reporting incidents, Kernighan adds: “It’s important to remember that if someone in your life has been subjected to a hate crime, it should always be their decision whether to report the experience to the police.”

Empathy and awareness

Equality for LGBTQ+ folk has come a long way in recent years and, generally speaking, being ‘out’ may seem a lot easier now compared with the widespread discrimination the community faced just a few decades ago. However, there is still a long way to go – so for allies, awareness and empathy here can go a long way towards helping people feel supported.

“LGBT+ rights may have progressed in the UK, but anti-LGBT+ hate crime is on the rise,” says Kernighan. “There’s been a significant 37.5% increase in reported anti-LGBT+ hate crimes in the last two years alone. We know from the Government’s own research that 90% of hate crime goes unreported, so the real picture of anti-LGBT+ hate crime in the UK is much larger than these figures suggest.

“Hate-motivated abuse tends to have more profound and enduring effects than other types of crime, because it attacks a core part of someone’s identity and can make them feel ashamed or fearful about being themselves in public.

“The impact of hate crime can lead someone to miss out on education or work. We’ve supported victims who have been subjected to anti-LGBT+ hate from customers or clients at work, which has led them to quit their jobs. Others have avoided certain routes to college or school, which has resulted in their education suffering. The impacts of hate crime are much bigger and more pervasive than people would assume,” Kernighan adds. “Having an ally understand [this] is important for helping victims and survivors feel safe to talk about their experience and reach out for support.”

What if you witness a hate crime?

Kernighan says it’s “really useful for allies to know what to do if you witness an anti-LGBT+ incident in a public space or on public transport”. Of course, safety is paramount.

“If you do decide to actively intervene, it’s important to assess each situation carefully and only step in if you feel safe to do so,” Kernighan says. “If you do feel safe, you can check in on the person who is being subjected to anti-LGBT+ hate in a number of ways.”

Kernighan suggests:

– Ask the person if they’re ok, and offer to call a friend or family member for them.

– Sit with them. Assure them that what happened wasn’t ok.

– Keep a record of everything that happened, and when it happened.

– Check whether there’s someone like a staff member or a police officer nearby that you can talk to, if the person agrees.

For more information, visit If you have been impacted by hate crime, speak to Galop’s trained LGBT+ Helpline Advisors on 0800 999 5428.


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