A British county is hosting its first Pride event in response to a recent rise in homophobic hate crime.
Worcestershire in the West Midlands has seen a dramatic rise in homophobic hate crime since 2015, when 18 incidents were reported.
40 such incidents occurred in Worcestershire from April 2016 to March 2017 – and in the few months since April, 30 homophobic hate crimes have already been reported.
This follows a national trend of rising incidents of hate crime, with a surge in reports after last year’s Brexit vote.
In July, Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn confronted Theresa May about homophobic hate crime, following a damning report by Pride in London which revealed 42% of LGBT Londoners had been a victim of a hate crime.
Statistics show that towns and cities which host Pride events have lower rates of homophobic hate crime.
And that principle has been taken on board by passionate members of the Worcestershire community, who are organising Pride events in the hope of promoting tolerance and normalising LGBT+ people within the county.
Chair of the Worcestershire Pride committee Andre Oldfield told PinkNews: “It’s our first event, we’re very nervous and very excited at the same time.
“Though the political element is important, it’s just as important for us to be able to party.
If you’re a young person who has spent your life thinking you’re the only queer person in your town, celebrating being visible is vital.
“To spend that day walking around with your partner holding their hand is a revolutionary act.”
He added: “Pride is about picking up all the fractured elements of the LGBTQIA+ community in Worcestershire and saying that we’re here and it’s an event for us.
“The support from the city and from the people in the city has been overwhelmingly supportive, it’s wonderful.”
The South Worcestershire police lead for hate crime Chief Inspector Jim Baker highlighted that hate crime is still underreported and invited people to come forward with these incidents.
He reiterated the police’s dedication to tackling homophobic hate crime, saying: “Worcester is a diverse place and on the whole people embrace diversity.
“We are proud to play our part in ensuring it is a safe place to live, work and visit for everyone.”
Worcestershire Pride joins the neighbouring counties of Herefordshire and Warwickshire in hosting a county Pride celebration.
The main event will take place on September 23rd in the Copenhagen Street Car Park, Worcester, and will feature a festival market and live performances, with an afterparty in the evening.
There is also an LGBT+ arts festival organised for the fortnight surrounding the main event.
Earlier this month, a DUP official made a formal complaint about a placard held at Belfast Pride, claiming that it was an example of a hate crime.
by Jessica Glass
Source – PinkNews