National Hate Crime Awareness Week (NationalHCAW) returns from 10-17 October. COVID means it will be a different event to usual, but for the man who’s the driving force behind it, community organiser Mark Healey, the week remains as vital as ever.
Statistics back him up. It’s tempting to think things are only getting better for LGBT people: that the march of progress is moving in one direction only. However, coupled with this rise in progress and visibility, there’s also been a rise in hate crime.
In 2019, the Guardian reported that there had been a surge in reports of hate crimes toward LGBT people in England and Wales. Here’s the Guardian’s report: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/14/homophobic-and-transphobic-hate-crimes-surge-in-england-and-wales.
Since 2014, incidences of hate crime toward gay people have doubled. They’ve trebled toward trans people.
It’s why National Hate Crime Awareness Week (nationalhcaw.uk) cannot be overlooked, even in times of pandemic. In fact, with many people spending more time than before side-by-side with their neighbours, or confined in lockdown to living with homophobic flatmates or parents, there’s reason to think it particularly relevant in 2020.
This year’s event will be different to previous years due to COVID-19 restrictions, but that’s why organisers want as many people to try and get involved, particularly if they can provide photos or just simple statements of support.
The week aims to encourage councils, the police and communities to work together, to encourage people to report hate crimes, and to commemorate those affected by hate crime. For example, it runs an annual vigil to mark the anniversary of the Brick Lane, Brixton and Soho nail bomb attacks of 1999 (even managing to do so this year despite COVID).
“It’s also about saying clearly, hate crime is not acceptable in our communities and we want to work together to make our communities safer for everybody,” says Healey, who founded the organisation 17-24-30NationalHCAW and launched the week in 2012.