Another victim as racist and homophobic attacks grow

There seems no let up in the number of race and homophobic attacks in Northern Ireland with a Portuguese man, who was stabbed in the stomach in Dungannon, County Tyrone as he got out of a taxi, the latest victim.
There has been a huge rise in hate attacks in the North with almost 2,500 hate crimes in the last nine months of 2005.

PSNI figures show there were 697 racial incidents between April and December, 2005 compared with 624 incidents in the same period in 2004 – an 11.6% rise. Homophobic incidents climbed from 139 to 167, a 16.6% increase.

The clearance rate for racial incidents was 18%, up from 15.9%. The clearance rate for homophobic incidents was 29.4%, up from 17.3%. In comparison, between April and December 2005 there were 1,451 sectarian incidents.

This isn’t the first time Dungannon has been in the news for racist attacks. In September 2004, local traders complained that such attacks were damaging the town’s prospects.

Meanwhile, the PSNI have extended a poster campaign across the province which carries the message ‘Hate Crime is Wrong’. However, there is a worry that the police itself needs to tackle its own homophobia, following claims in a report by the Institute for Conflict Research that gay and lesbian officers have been allegedly taunted and harassed because of their sexuality, with senior male officers ignoring the abuse.

The report also found that nearly one in three (31%) members of the gay community had been the victim of a crime within the last 12 months, with more than half of those (58%) believing it was motivated by homophobia.