A PROTEST highlighting a rise in homophobic attacks has been hailed a success.
More than 100 people – including local councillors and members of Amnesty International – joined in with the peaceful protest outside Leamington Town Hall at the weekend.
It was organised by founder of Warwickshire Pride, Daniel Browne, following a rise in the number of attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Leamington in recent months.
The 30-year-old – who organised the festival to celebrate LGBT people in the county – said: “The rally was to highlight the issue of hate crimes and attacks on the LGBT community.
“Homophobic and transphobic incidents, including physical and sexual abuse, are clearly on the rise in Leamington. Despite there being Warwickshire Pride, which celebrates diversity, in many ways the town is going backwards.”
The most recent attack happened to a 16-year-old boy, who was verbally assaulted using homophobic and racist language before he was attacked, suffering cuts and bruises.
Daniel himself says he has previously been attacked and has even been thrown out of a bar for being gay.
He believes people do not come forward when they are the victim of a hate crime as they feel nothing will be done.
But says homophobic attacks need to be reported so they can be stopped.
He told the Observer: “I have personally met with representatives of Warwickshire Police who have been incredibly supportive and helpful while also discussing a number of strategies to support the community and increase the reporting of hate crimes.
“The next step is to ensure the LGBT community are supported sufficiently and to encourage victims of crime to report to the police. After all, how can they help if they don’t know these crimes are happening.”
Police say they are aware hate crime is underreported and have urged victims to come forward as the force was committed to tackling such crime.