Response to ‘June 7, 2011 Anti-Gay Hate Crime Up 21% in Tower Hamlets”

This response was posted by a Kevin O’Neil on the Homintern ‘press release’ re: homophobia in Tower Hamlets, which I wrote about yesterday. It was deleted within 30 minutes. I think this underlines that these people really have an insidious agenda and zero interest in any honest discussion of the issues involved. Pathetic.

Thank you for posting the link to your data source for the 21% claim. A look round the Met’s crime figures website has proved most illuminating and allows one to put your headline into a context.
A 21% increase in homophobic crime in Tower Hamlets initially sounds dramatic but becomes less so when compared with other London Boroughs. Westminster, Lambeth both 26%, Brent 29%, Islington 60%, Croydon, Sutton 62%, Enfield 75%, Havering, Kingston-upon-Thames 83% and Harrow a wapping 125%.

Of course these are self-reflexive percentages only relating this years figures with last years within Borough boundaries. What about actual numbers of reported homophobic crime? A 21% rise in Tower Hamlets has lead to a total of 81 cases in the last year, an additional 14 cases. That is less than the 88 cases in Islington in the previous year BEFORE a 60% increase to 131 cases. It equals the 82 cases in Camden achieved after a 13% reduction. It is significantly less than Westminster’s 148 cases and Lambeth’s 132.

One also has to ask what are the nature of these homophobic crimes? In Tower Hamlets the 81 incidents, 14 more than last year, will include every official report made to the Police of the appearance of the stickers. We do not know how many that was (although I imagine a Freedom of Information request should be able to obtain the data). There was talk in the gay press and online blogs and forums of up to 70 appearances of these stickers. If each of those was officially reported separately we have a very different picture of only a dozen non sticker sighting related homophobic crimes. Conversely, if none were officially reported we have the possibility of an East London gay community who really weren’t that upset by them. I suspect it would be something between these extremes. However, if the reporting of the stickers were stripped out of the statistics I think we would be congratulating Tower Hamlets on a reduction of homophobic hate crime.

You seem to want to lay some of the blame for these stickers at the feet of the East London Mosque and make demands of them which you acknowledge the say they are already doing. Whether the ELM is still harbouring homophobic, ranting, nut-jobs or not, it would appear from a more thoughtful analysis and contextualisation of your data that hardly anyone is listening to them anyway.

Your whole agenda of wanting to link homophobic hate crime specifically to an extremist Islamist campaign and to the ELM is a fallacious red herring and does a great disservice to the gay community. A look at the statistics for homophobic crime across the capital shows that there is a serious problem that needs addressing. You wish to focus on a blind alley and lead the gay community into a battle with an enemy that is about as influential as Monster Raving Loony Party candidate in a safe seat.

A number of the signatories here state they are journalists and media professionals. Why are you not investigating the real picture of homophobic hate crime across London? Why are you not looking at the increases and total numbers in Westminster, Lambeth, Islington, Camden. The homophobic crime cases in these Boroughs do not include people reporting offensive stickers. Conversely why are you not looking at the successes across London and finding out what they’re doing right; Greenwich, Bromley, Barnet, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham, Hammersmith & Fulham and Haringey all down by over 40%.

You talk of people living in fear in Tower Hamlets. Fear does not come directly from threat, it comes from the perception of threat. Your fallacious red herring stokes a perceived threat where very little actually exists. Shame on all the signatories for instilling fear in the hearts of the gay community of Tower Hamlets and generating more misery.

One final comment. You give the increase and numbers for homophobic crime in Tower Hamlets and state that racist and religious hate crime has remained static. But you do not give a figure for it. The number of incidents there is 352.
I note however the the Met refers to “homophobic crime” and “racist and religious HATE crime”. This would seem to support the contention towards the beginning of the piece about institutional bias in tackling hate crime. But then begs the question as to why you do not make this the focus of your demands”

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