GAY people living in sleepy villages and rural towns face relentless bullying, with some facing graffiti attacks on their homes or left too scared to go out, a study reveals today.
Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people living outside cities say that hate crime is an “everyday reality” and harassment and verbal abuse are “part and parcel” of their lives.
Those in rural communities are also left “lonely and isolated with nowhere to turn,” said Dr Stevie-Jade Hardy, a lecturer at the University of Leicester’s centre for hate studies and the author of a new report on LGBT hate crime.
“There were quite a few who mentioned being targeted by young people in their area,” she said.
“People would graffiti their house or cause criminal damage. Young people when they walked down the street would verbally abuse them call them derogatory names, and often it would start to escalate.
“If something was done about it, they found that sometimes the instances got worse and the young people were targeting them more frequently.”
Dr Hardy found that many victims do not report incidents to police for fear of not being taken seriously or being “outed” to their families.
Those living in more rural areas were particularly vulnerable, she argued, as LGBT people felt they were more likely to be targeted if they were “noticeably different.”
Dr Hardy said: “People are actually scared to go out into their garden to enjoy the sun. Some people had taken some practical steps like having CCTV put into their house.
“It can be really damaging, particularly as, in the rural locations, it tended to be older LGBT people as well. And so there isn’t often that community or that group you can go to access support.”
Publication of the study’s conclusions, entitled LGB&T Crime Reporting: Identifying Barriers and Solutions, coincides with a major Equality and Human Rights Commission campaign to encourage people to report abuse.
The TUC LGBT delegates will meet for their annual conference at Congress House in London from Thursday.