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Why are homophobic attacks increasing in Birmingham?

Pride celebrations were held in Birmingham this year on September 25th-26 (Pride Month is usually celebrated in February in the UK but was moved due to the pandemic and the lockdown of the past 18 months.) The event took place over the weekend in the gay quarters in Hurst Street Birmingham; the area was  filled with the beautiful colours of the rainbow where people of all colours and creed enjoyed the festivities.

LGBT Pride originated in the United States as a way to commemorate the Stonewall riots which occured at the end of June 1969, in which many people were killed and injured for their sexuality. Pride events are now held all over the world to recognize  LGBT+ people and their contributions to society. Unfortunately, homophobic discrimination is still a thing: there seems to be  a rise in attacks on people of the LGBT+ community in Birmingham. 

To get an update on what is really happening, I spoke to some event attendees who narrated to me some of their experiences as gay men. 

I met up with Tom Matthews, an activist, and asked him about some of the attacks taking place in the LGBTQ+ community. He explained: “Over the years I have experienced many instances of verbal abuse, both in England, Europe and the USA. In the mid eighties I was ‘queerbashed’.” But Tom refuses to let the bigots win:  “I have always wanted to show that I am proud of being a gay man,” he said. 

Lately many gay people are in fear of their lives while attending clubs and events in Birmingham. One man was arrested on the 7th of September for a series of stabbings in the gay quarters. This is not good for these people to be living in fear for their lives, everyone should  be protected in their surroundings. Due to these  horrific incidents many from the LGBT+ community suffered as a result.

Another gay man whom I interviewed asked that I do not use his real name. “Josh” mentioned that attacks are being carried out by people who for some reason believe homosexuality is wrong. “I know for a fact that there has been an increase in attacks on homosexuals in  the gay village in recent months,” he said.

Josh explained since he was in school, he was called names as well as the workplace and other public places. He said while the name calling is something that one can learn to live with, tolerate or answer back to, due to increase in homophobic attacks he is now placing more emphasis on self-protection. Some members of the community feel that there is now a need for them to be vigilant as they go out at night. They talked about having to make an effort to look after their drinks so they are not spiked and staying in groups for safety purposes.

Josh said he is of the opinion that members of the public and children in schools need to be educated about LGBT+ issues and to understand that it’s fine to be LGBT+ since Love is Love.

“Members of the public also need to know that attacks of any kind will not be tolerated in the UK since members of the LGBTQ+ community have the same rights as anyone else,” Josh said. He also paid tribute to the police whom he described as being very responsive when hate crime is reported to them.

I was shocked by what I heard about the recent rise in homophobia in the west Midlands. I am of the opinion that members of the LGBTQ+ should not be subjected to a life of fear since people of this community have rights just like anyone of us. They should not be discriminated against or brutalised because of their sexuality or what they chose to call themselves or wear.

Migrants and asylum seekers who have left their countries to seek acceptance will find they are able to express and live their lives freely, because laws are there to protect members of the LGBTQ+ community and all other gender identities in their respective communities. 

Image © SnappyPete via Twenty20

About the author

My name is Althia Loraine Barnett, and I Live in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham with my husband Anthony. I was born in Jamaica, I am a wife, mother and grandmother, I love to cook, bake and also try my hand at craftwork. I came to live in the UK 19 years ago. I worked as a dinner lady cleaner, care worker, and school bus guide with  Birmingham City Council. I was schooled in Jamaica, I didn’t finish high school so I developed my education by reading and practicing writing  from other educational sources.

I came into journalism by attending a Media Lab meeting with a friend and it started from there. My writing style is around migrant-related stories, current affairs and opinion pieces. My new found love in journalism is to see myself writing articles for well established news corporations.

My ambition is to write articles that will attract the most advanced organisations who might be looking for new and exciting writers with different writing styles. My belief is we should always look out for each other, as this world was created in the image of  the rainbow, we come in different colours, shapes and sizes if we mix them together what a wonderful world this would be to live in.

This article is part of our Voices of the Economy series. The project brings together the economic experiences and opinions of people from a range of different backgrounds and showcases voices which are not heard as often when we talk about the economy. To find out more and share your own story click here.

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