‘Hate crime has a huge impact’: LGBT community set for Gay Village vigil to ‘make sure voices are heard’

LGBT hate crime victims will be commemorated at a rousing vigil at the heart of Manchester’s Gay Village on Tuesday evening.

Members of the LGBT community will unite at the Beacon of Hope at Sackville Gardens to mark the annual International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

A host of speakers are set to share their stories, together with music from the Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus and a one-minute silence for hate crime victims of hate shaping the event, organised by the LGBT Foundation.  

Hate Crime Vigil organiser and LGBT Foundation Communications Coordinator Jen Lau told MM: “It’s the ideal place for us to gather.

“It’s vital that we encourage the reporting of hate crime, express the feelings within the community and make sure that voices are heard – that’s why we will have a range of speakers.

“LGBT Foundation Chair and Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester David McGovern, LGBT women lead member for Manchester City Council Beth Craig and Nigerian LGBT activist Aderonke Atata, among others, will speak out on Tuesday evening in hope that their own experiences can help victims who may have experienced hate crime and don’t know what to do.”

Over the past year, 83 per cent of hate crimes reported to the LGBT Foundation were homophobic or biphobic, and 17 per cent were transphobic. They were all verbal incidents.

This year’s fourth annual vigil will take on a mental health and wellbeing theme, tying into what is also Mental Health Awareness Week.

“Obviously hate crime has a huge impact on LGBT people and their mental health,” Ms Lau told MM.

Mental health is even more of a prominent issue within the LGBT community.

“We know that about 90 per cent of those who access our support services choose to because they are LGBT specific services.”

In light of this, body image and eating disorder advisor Daniel Perry will also speak at the event about his personal experiences and how he dealt with them as a gay man.

The vigil marking IDAHOBIT has been growing year on year, and Ms Lau hopes that Tuesday’s additional theme will raise awareness both in and outside the LGBT community regarding the effects of hate crime and the services the LGBT Foundation provide as a third party reporting centre and support network. 

“It’s about the LGBT community coming together and commemorating those who have been victims of hate crime,” she said.

“Part of our job is to support people through the process of reporting. They can report anonymously if they want to or if they don’t want it to be reported to the police.”

“By reporting hate crimes to us, we can continue to monitor the ways in which we can work with other agencies across the community to encourage a positive and safe society.”

The vigil takes place at 6-7pm at Sackville Gardens, Manchester, on Tuesday 17 May 2016.

Contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 330 3030 or visit their website to report LGBT hate crime or get advice and support. 

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