In 1998 I came over to Manchester for a night out. I left a night club in order to catch a train back to Sheffield at 2 in the morning, and ended up spending the night in the MRI as I was attacked and robbed by a gang of men whom the police told me they knew were targeting gay men.
You will know that I am not of the build that folk might think invites an attack – and in those days I was several stones lighter and far more agile and able to defend myself. But, I was soon on the ground being kicked and punched, and I was lucky that an unknown person called for the police and an ambulance.
The physical effects of being a target for hate crime pass relatively easily. But, the psychological scars take much longer to heal, if they ever do heal.
No one deserves to be beaten up and robbed because of their sexuality or gender. Everyone regardless of their status should be able to walk the streets in safety. It isn’t acceptable to suppose that “X” or “y” were “asking for it” because of where they happen to be, or wearing.
In 2015 the number of reported attacks on LGBTI people rose by a third in Manchester.
Tuesday 17th May is the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). There is a vigil in the “gay village” that evening from 6-7pm, and I will be leading a group of us from Church going in solidarity for this event.
I firmly believe that it is part of our Christian Mission to let all people know that God is Love, and that means being alongside men and women who are marginalised because of their sexuality or gender. It means taking a stand against homophobic bullies, and our presence at the vigil on Tuesday is a way of making such a stand.