In December, Vodafone Foundation launched Zoteria, a new app to tackle LGBTQ+ hate crime following a rise in reported incidents across the UK.
The latest statistics from the Home Office this month reveal that England and Wales continue to become less safe for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.
Hate crimes against trans people have risen by 11% year-on-year, and by 186% in the last five years, and hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are also up by 112% in the last five years.
Incidents in remote areas
When looking at the latest anonymised data in the app, we can see that while reports are coming from major cities such as London, Manchester, Bristol, Brighton and Glasgow, incidents are also now being flagged in the most remote parts of the UK.
Through Zoteria, we’ve seen that we’re able reach people from Lochgilphead in Northwest Scotland, Beaumaris in Wales and Coleriane in Ireland to Sunderland and Torquay in England.
Typically, funding for LGBTQ+ services has been concentrated on larger cities with visible and extensive LGBTQ+ communities. That means that people in remote areas don’t necessarily have access to these specialised services.
This is where Zoteria is making a difference.
How to get support
Using Zoteria, victims now have a quick route to support, no matter where they are based or what services are available in their immediate area.
Through the app, developed by Vodafone Foundation in partnership with UK LGBTQ+ anti-abuse and rights charities Galop and Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ community is able to flag an incident in minutes via a few questions in the app, either for themselves or a friend, creating an easy way to get their voice heard.
Zoteria allows the user to request remote support from Galop at the end of the process, if it’s needed.
Sadly, with psychological impact the highest consequence of an incident, followed by social-isolation, having access to such support could be critical for a victim’s wellbeing.
An issue of trust
Zoteria also provides a variety of educational content, the latest community events and soon it will share the latest news too, and the anonymised data gathered can help build a better picture of anti-LGBTQ+ hate incidents in the UK.
For example, recent data shows that most incidents are linked to a victim’s sexual orientation, followed by trans identity and gender expression and that victims flagging incidents in the app are likely to experience verbal abuse (66%), hate speech (46%) or physical abuse (13%).
According to the Government’s 2017 National LGBT+ Survey, 91% of anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime is not reported to the police. Therefore, the true number of hate crimes or hate incidents (non-criminal bullying, abuse, harassment, hostility or hatred) are likely to be much higher than the latest Official Hate Crime Statistics suggest.
Zoteria aims to provide an alternative safe and easy way to flag hate incidents.
LGBT+ anti-abuse charity, Galop, says that hate crime victims often don’t know their rights, what constitutes a hate crime, or that they’re entitled to support after experiencing hate crime, but through Zoteria, victims will be able to request support and access that information.
Stonewall, the largest LGBTQ+ rights organisation in Europe, will use evidence gathered through Zoteria to advocate for better protections on hate crime against the LGBTQ+ community.
We hope that by creating a clearer picture of anti-LGBTQ+ hate incidents in the UK, we can work to better support the safety and wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community.
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