Many LGBTIQ young people are reluctant to report hate crimes to police because they fear further discrimination, according to new research.
The report, commissioned by Victoria Police and released on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia today, found young queer people were worried their complaints would not be taken seriously, that they would be “outed”, or that reporting the abuse wouldn’t achieve anything, the ABC reported.
The research found that while close to 95 per cent of those surveyed had been victims of hate crimes, just over 10 per cent of hate crimes were reported to police. Only 42 per cent of those surveyed said they trusted police.
“Their levels of trust were still only about 50 per cent, many of them either because they had bad past experiences or because they had just had absorbed that suspicion that a lot of LGBTI people have of police historically,” the report’s lead author Liam Leonard said.
“Police have had historically a very bad relationship with the LGBTI community, they’ve been seen as one of the institutions that perhaps have actually enacted discriminatory practices.
“That’s been changing for 10, 15, 20 years and I say this report is part of an ongoing change in making Victoria Police much more open.”
The researchers also surveyed hundreds of police officers, and found they wanted more training on LGBTIQ issues.
Senior constable and LGBTIQ liaison officer Gabby Tyacke said the mistrust between police and community members led to the under-reporting of hate crimes.
“Currently where being gender diverse is much more common, people are finding it a bit harder to approach police because they’re just concerned about being misgendered,” she told the ABC.
“A lot of the time it happens because of a mistake, people who are speaking to young people are looking at them and identifying them as one gender, where that young person might identify as a different gender.
“If you misgender someone, they immediately shut down and don’t want to talk to you and don’t want your help anymore.”
The report makes 20 recommendations to Victoria Police including providing a more visible police presence at LGBTIQ youth events, promotion of liaison officers, increased training on LGBTIQ issues and diversifying the recruitment within the force.
Priority Communities Division Commander Stuart Bateson said the force was supportive of all of the report’s recommendations.
“The next piece of work for us will be to explore ways we can implement the remaining recommendations to improve the way we engage with young people going forward,” he said.
“We know that for young people, being recognised, acknowledged and valued for who they are is vital to their sense of self-worth and contributes to their willingness to engage with police.
“For police, we know that the better an officer understands the issues facing young LGBTI people, the more willing and able they are to engage with young people in respectful and positive ways.
“With young people, we have the chance to build a strong relationship and positive impressions of police, which is why this [report] is so important.”
The full report can be read on the Victoria Police website.
(Photo by Victoria Police)