'Birmingham Against LGBTQI Hate' hold two protests to stand against homophobic attacks

Hundreds turn out to protest against homophobic and transphobic attacks in Birmingham.

Photo of protests for LGBTQ+ safety in Birmingham
Image: Twitter @BrumAgainstHate

CW: This article contains descriptions of violence and details of a homophobic attack.

Hundreds have gathered at two separate protests to demonstrate against the rise in homophobic attacks occurring in Birmingham. 

The demonstrations took place on October 14 and 24 and saw both members of Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ community and their allies come together to take a stand against hate crime aimed at LGBTQ+ people.

The events were organised by activist group Birmingham Against LGBTQI Hate. The group, which formed earlier this month, has been set up in direct response to a spate of violent homophobic attacks.

The first demonstration took place outside Birmingham’s oldest and largest LGBTQ+ club, the Nightingale and was attended by hundreds of protesters. The second event was held at the Chinese Pagoda in Holloway Circus, close to the site of the city’s most recent attack on John-Paul Kesseler.

The attack occurred on October 10 when Kesseler was violently struck with a glass bottle across his head. The attacker was reportedly angered by the fact that he was holding hands with a male friend.

In advance of the first demonstration, city leaders issued a strong statement of support for the demonstrations.

The statement which was reported by ITV was signed by Ian Ward, Birmingham’s City Council Leader, Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street. 

The statement began, “The recent abhorrent, vicious homophobic attacks in Birmingham disgust the three of us in equal measure. For someone to be assaulted because of who they are or who they love is simply not acceptable.” 

It continued, “… hate will not win and our message to the homophobes is that they do not represent Birmingham, and they never will. Everyone has a right to feel safe on our streets, no matter where they are, day or night.”

Photo of protests for LGBTQ+ safety in Birmingham

A range of active measures are also being implemented, in order to address the violence. According to the statement, West Midlands Police have increased patrols in and around Birmingham’s Gay Village. They have also allocated £200,000 for the implementation of a service to support victims of hate crime. While the City Council have committed to providing free hate crime training to businesses and to developing a space within the Gay Village for anyone feeling vulnerable.

Whilst these measures are welcomed, Birmingham is not alone in experiencing escalated violence. According to figures, homophobic attacks in the UK have risen by a horrific 210% over the last 6 years with transphobic attacks increasing by 332%, as reported in Vice World News earlier this month.

Following the first protest, Birmingham Pride’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Saima Razzaq, told the BBC, “As a queer Muslim woman and a Brummie, I’m disappointed that again Birmingham is infiltrated with hate and attacks. We should be free to walk on these streets. This is the home of queer people in Birmingham.”

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