Government must do more to protect LGBTIQ community against hate crime: Greens

Greens spokesperson for Sexuality and Gender Identity and Justice Hon Alison Xamon MLC has urged the Government to develop a better response to LGBTIQ prejudice-related crime, following revelations WA Police do NOT track this kind of data.

Ms Xamon said she was dismayed to learn through questions in Parliament that police still did not track instances of hate crime directed at the LGBTIQ community – a decade after it was identified as a significant gap.

She said WA was lagging behind other states in its responses to hate crime against the LGBTIQ community – and other minorities – which meant police were unprepared, the LGBTIQ community and other vulnerable groups under-protected and victims unsupported.

“I am very concerned that there remains no targeted approach to tackling hate crime,” Ms Xamon said.

“To stop crime motivated by prejudice against groups on the grounds of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disability, we need to know the scale of the problem.”

Ms Xamon said a police briefing paper from May 2018, provided as part of the answer to her question in Parliament about the issue, acknowledged WA was lagging seriously behind other states.

She said the paper admitted the lack of data meant WA Police were currently not able to accurately identify trends or emerging issues, or providing appropriate responses to hate crime incidents, including towards members of the LGBTIQ community.

“The Australian Human Rights Commission found 72% of LGBTIQ people had experienced verbal abuse; 41% threats of physical violence, and 23% a physical assault – these numbers increase dramatically for people who identify as trans, with an horrific 92% of trans women experiencing verbal abuse, and 46% a physical assault,” Ms Xamon said.

“This is a serious problem, which is compounded by the information that we have that indicates the LGBTIQ community are much less likely to report incidents.”

Ms Xamon said New Zealand and the United Kingdom contained provisions in law for hate crime – and legislation was one avenue which WA should consider.

She said legislation itself was not enough to build the inclusive and equal society that we aspire to, but it sent a clear message that hateful discrimination would not be tolerated.

“I think we all aspire to live in a community where everyone feels connected, has a sense of belonging and feels valued,” Ms Xamon said.

“There should be simply no place for hatred and prejudice against the LGBTIQ – or other minorities – in Western Australia.”