HOMOPHOBIC attacks in Leamington are on the rise says the founder of Warwickshire Pride.
Daniel Browne organised the first festival two years ago to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the county.
But the 30-year-old from Leamington says he has seen an increase in attacks on LGBT people – even being the victim of one himself.
Daniel – who is gay and in a relationship – said: “I have personally been thrown out of a bar for being gay. The manager called me a number of homophobic names and barred me.
“Another time I was pinned up against a window and held up by my throat. Again this was just for being gay and was completely unprovoked.”
Daniel claims there has been a recent spate of attacks on LGBT people in the town, from threats in the street to physical and sexual abuse.
The most recent attack happened on Saturday (September 12) along the canal towpath at Eastnor Grove.
A 16-year-old boy was verbally assaulted using homophobic and racist language and was then attacked, suffering cuts and bruises.
Daniel – who runs the ‘Push Projects’ charity supporting young LGBT people in Warwick – says he is concerned people feel nothing will be done if they report a hate crime. Only six have been reported so far this year, the same amount as in 2014.
Supt David Gardner from Warwickshire Police told the Observer: “We know that all types of hate crime are underreported and we are committed to ensuring victims have the confidence to come forward and report their ordeal.
“Nobody should tolerate being victimised because of who they are and I would urge any victim of hate crime to report it to the police or another hate crime reporting service to ensure it is investigated and criminals are brought to justice.”
To help raise awareness of the attacks, Daniel is organising a peaceful protest on Saturday October 3 between 11am and 1pm outside Leamington Town Hall.
He said: “Homophobic and transphobic incidents are clearly on the rise in Leamington. Despite there being Warwickshire Pride Festival which celebrates diversity and LGBT culture, in many ways the town is going backwards. Something needs to be done to raise awareness of what LGBT are going through.
“I hope LGBT people and anyone who supports equality can come together at the rally to help raise awareness of these issues.”
Hate crime can be reported by visiting www.report-it.org.uk or by calling the police on 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency.