The changing motives of LGBT pride and its impact on hate crime against members of LGBT community.
The continuing march towards a progressive, enlightened society, may when viewed against a backdrop of increasing societal acceptance of a visible Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender [LGBT] agenda, have paradoxically facilitated an increase in hate crime.
This dissertation provides an insight into the specific views held by members of the LGBT community as to why hate crime continues to be perpetrated against them; and their opinions as to the insidious, sometimes counterproductive effects Pride events can produce, when viewed as increasingly commercialised product.
The use of semi-structured interviews for the purpose of collating real and lived experiences, is the framework for this dissertation. In turn this gathered data is used for the purpose of analysing four emerging themes, paramount as to why LGBT individuals feel hate crime is on the rise in an otherwise, contemporary, liberal society.
A combination of personal interviews and associated research identified four key themes as warranting further analysis: –
- Incidents of unreported hate crimes by members of the LGBT community.
- The commercialisation of Pride events.
- The erosion of Pride’s political motive.
- The visibility and public perception of Pride events amongst the mass populous within a contemporary society.
The impact these four ‘subjects of concern’ have produced upon members of the LGBT community are paramount as to understanding why hate crime still occurs across the globe and in particular in the United Kingdom; an otherwise a model of liberal democracy.
The methodological approach used for this research demanded the collating of the views and opinions of an oppressed societal minority [LGBT] alongside the use of sociological and criminological theory to analyse and comprehend the reasons why specific individuals feel hate crime is on the rise; whilst also providing data upon the political and corporate exploitation felt by LGBT students of the University of Hull.
Author: Clare Chamberlain, May 2019
BA (Hons) Criminology and Sociology
I would like to extend my thanks to my supervisor Doctor Billie Lister, for her continued support throughout this dissertation. Without her, this dissertation would be both incomplete and inaccurate. The time and support she has given me throughout the writing process has been invaluable.
I would also like to thank my Academic Support Tutor, Kay Brady, who has supported me endlessly throughout my entire degree. Enduring my constant worries and panic, without her I do not think I would have made it too final year to complete this piece of work.
Moreover, I am extremely grateful to my participants, without whom this research would not have been possible; and of course, their bravery, honesty and willingness to partake.
In addition, I must thank my friends and family for their constant support and motivation to achieve (in many cases) almost unreachable heights.
Finally, thank you to my girlfriend, whom I would be lost without.
Table of Contents
Lack of understanding in a contemporary society as to why hate crime against the LGBT community is increasing is the reason why this dissertation forms a crucial step in trying to understand this specific anti-social behaviour. Hate crime in UK legislation is defined as ‘any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic’(Home Office, 2017). This definition covers both an individual’s sexual orientation and an individual’s transgender identity and therefore, it is this legislative interpretation which will form basis of references to hate crime as used throughout this paper.
Hate crime within the United Kingdom is prevalent. As perpetrated against the LGBT community it accounts for around fifteen percent of all monitored hate crimes; yet the number of such offences is increasing exponentially. Between 2011 and 2017 hate crimes specific to the LGBT community all but tripled; with 4,345 cases in 2011/12 and 11,638 cases in 2017/18 (Home Office, 2018).
Currently there is no information as to reasons for this marked rise nor any apparent research attempting to decipher the underlying causes of the increase? This lack of current research is the reason why this dissertation provides a valuable, if belated, search for answers.
As society diversifies it becomes ever more tolerant of differing sexual identities, whilst paradoxically crimes based upon an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity are increasing. Therefore, the research conducted within this dissertation is fundamental to understanding why anti-social issues surrounding sexual orientation continue to prevail and what the catalyst may be for those retained issues.
Incidents of hate crime discussed statistically are only those which are reported to the police; this figure, therefore, many never fully reveal the full extent of the true crime rate. The LGBT charity Stonewall also collate hate crime figures, alongside the official police statistics and thus provide a range of views, including statistics which identify under reporting. It is suggested from the ‘Stonewall’ data that four in five LGBT individuals, who were victims of hate crime did not report the incident to the police! This equates to 81% of individuals who did not feel they were able, for whatever reason, to report the incident. These crime figures are therefore ‘hidden crimes’ which remain underrepresented within the official statistics. (Bachmann and Gooch, 2017). Through personal interviews conducted for the purpose of this paper, gauging a view on the participants thoughts of reporting incidents of hate crime was included; many feelings that their reporting would not be taken seriously by the police if they were to report a homophobic incident.
The United Kingdom (UK) locates itself at the forefront of equality, providing legislating for parity for the homosexual and heterosexual community on such matters as same sex marriage, adoption and participation in the army; this not being the case globally. Channing and Ward support the idea that the UK is progressive in its nature toward equality and that the UK has made welcome strides in doing so (Channing and Ward, 2017). However, it is evident that legalisation on these issues is not all that is required for members of the LGBT community to feel as if they are equal to their heterosexual counterparts. A change as to the law not does always directly equate to a change in public perception and it is this societal lag between the law and perceptions which is still hugely detrimental to sense of welling of members of the LGBT community.
The progressive nature of UK legislation does not support, nor give an explanation of, the increasing incidents of hate crime across the country. Therefore, this paper will begin with an analyse and review of the literature surrounding hate crime and the effect it has upon the LGBT population. Yet it will also highlight the lack of specific literature offering reasons for the increase in hate crime within a liberal contemporary society. This paper will also try to establish whether there is a causal link between increasing public awareness of LGBT issues, such as Pride, and the statistical increase in hate crime. Alongside this, the research questions and the methodology reasons as to why specific types of data collections are used and this will be discussed in some detail.
Throughout this dissertation, the potential for Pride to be a factor in why hate crime is increasing will be discussed. In particular the increasingly exploitative nature and commercialisation of ‘product Pride’ Aside from the rise in Pride events and the potential link to the increasing number of hate crimes, the exploitation of the Pride rainbow can be seen throughout society, yet one might question whether it is being used for the correct reasons. For example, is this simply a genuine show of support for the LGBT community and an acknowledgment of their struggle or a cunning commercial façade – a money-making tactic used to obtain a greater share of the ‘Pink Pound’.
The Pink Pound is the acknowledged purchasing power of an historically vulnerable and marginalised group.
This concept is discussed in many forms. Not least that the capitalisation and money-making nature of society is explained as ‘heterosexism motivated by economic interests’, which argues that heterosexist corporate interests are profiting from an increasing LGBT visibility. (Whitney,2006: 37). This supports the idea, that commercial companies are simply adding to the problem. That increased awareness, from the use of rainbows to promote bank accounts to clothing brands, is contributing, wittingly or recklessly to something far more insidious than mere profit making.
This paper hopes to shine a light on the potential reality of people’s attitudes towards the LGBT community and provocatively raises the uncomfortable question whether society is as open-minded as the cosy images of inclusivity dare to claim?
These debated topics, alongside personal experiences and recorded attitudes will inform this dissertation’s conclusions. This research, by way giving insight into current areas of study will further provide detailed reasoning as to the need for a rational as to why, in an otherwise contemporary society, hate crime towards the LGBT community is increasing.
2 Literature Review
Recent statistics collected in the United Kingdom suggest that in 2017, ‘one in five LGBT people experienced a hate crime or other unpleasant incident due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity’ (Bachmann and Gooch, 2018:6). The increasing amount of LGBT directed hate crime suggests society is still not fully accepting members of the LGBT community. This chapter aims to give an understanding of the current literature that surrounds hate crime in the LGBT community and will begin to give background to the progression that has occurred within the UK since homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967. (Sexual Offences Act, 1967). Where appropriate, criminological theory is used to explain a societal reaction to phenomena from an academic viewpoint.
Prevalence of LGBT centred hate crime in the United Kingdom
Chakraborti and Garland (2009:55) suggest that ‘low-level forms of harassment are commonplace for gay communities’ which suggests that the general harassment of members of this community is somewhat normalised within society. The normative nature that characterises LGBT hate crime and its rapid increase gives light to support the statistic that; lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals who have experienced hate crime due to their sexual orientation has increased by 78 percent between 2013- 2017 (Bachmann and Gooch, 2017). Statistics of this nature would be somewhat less surprising if they were recorded when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom.
The partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 failed to eradicate the stigmatisation of those in the LGBT community and members of this diverse community continue to endure attacks and are poorly portrayed across society. Prior to 1967; homosexuality and the relationship between two men was illegal, yet at no point was it illegal for two women to be in a relationship, nor was this topic addressed or noticed.
This negative portrayal of the LGBT community can be seen within the historic actions of the liberation group, Lesbians and Gays support the Miners, (LGSM). The actions, treatment and negative attitudes against the members of the LGSM were widespread during the height of their fundraising causes despite the decriminalisation of homosexuality years previously. The aim of the LGSM was to fundraise and provide financial support in order to ‘sustain striking miners and their families throughout the duration of the strike’ (Jackson, 2015). The act of goodwill and support was however in many ways questioned by many within the mining community, many of whom felt that homosexuality was still culturally, and morally wrong despite homosexuality being decriminalised seventeen years prior to the support provided during the 1984-5 strikes. Homophobic behaviours of society based upon the views of the LGSM as seen within the 1980’s, however, can be accurately compared to similar homophobia within contemporary society.
The comparison is easier due to the writing and filming of the motion picture ‘Pride’. The film portrays of the compassionate, uncontroversial actions of the LGSM during the 1984-5 miners’ strike, yet its release within the United States saw it given an ‘R rating; which means no one under the age of 17 can legally view it without a parent or guardian being present. (Child, 2014). This rating was described by Peter Tatchell as:‘outrageous, knee-jerk homophobia. There’s no significant sex or violence in Pride to justify strong rating’.
The American classification board seems to automatically view any film with even the mildest gay content as unfit for people under 17’ (Child,2014). This response further supports the concept that is widespread across the globe, not only in the United Kingdom that there is still stigmatisation associated with homosexuality despite its legality.
The most significant area of literature whereby this stigmatisation is documented is in the portrayal of gay men during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The National Aids Trust (NAT) state that; ‘the gay plague and the gay cancer’ (National Aids Trust, 2003: 2), were terms given to describe early cases of diagnosed HIV in the early 1980’s,’.These derogatory terms falsely associated a disease that although occurring within the gay community was in no way limited or caused by homosexuality. This shows the negative treatment of the LGBT community during this time from a wide breadth of society including; the mass populous, the healthcare system and government officials. The above agencies all publicly held and portrayed negative and hateful connotations of those who were gay and suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Moreover, the previously mentioned article goes on to state that: ‘because of the pre-existing context of homophobia and the fact that gay men remain one of the main groups affected by the epidemic in the UK, stigmatisation and discrimination against gay men is still widespread’ (National Aids Trust, 2003: 2). This statement indicates the persistence of negative attitudes in the UK towards the LGBT community in contemporary society, especially when one notes that this research was published in 2003, more than twenty years after the first HIV/AIDS diagnosis in the United Kingdom.
The discussion pertaining to the association of HIV/AIDS to homosexuality inevitably leads us to a consideration of criminological theory, specifically the concept of moral panics. Cohen (2002: vii) stated that ‘the moral panic label means that the ‘thing’s’ extent and significance has been exaggerated’- this definition can be applied to the exaggeration of the HIV/AIDS crisis and the nature of blame which was placed upon those within the gay community. The blame was ultimately laid upon the homosexual men of the 1980’s thus suggesting that the moral panic of the public ‘cause folk devils by labelling more actions’ (Cohen, 2002: xxix), in the context of HIV/ AIDS is whereby the homosexual men of this time became the folk devil the media and society formed.
This concept is still applicable to society today. Society itself perceives the homosexual community, specifically gay men to be those who infect others with the HIV/AIDS virus, and ‘negative attitudes towards people with HIV have been recognised since the beginning of the epidemic’ (Smit et al., 2012), despite statistics that show that the amount of gay and bisexual men who have received a HIV diagnosis has decreased by 31% since 2015 (Public Health England, 2018), this preconception and the subsequent verbalisation of these views is common place. Within the article Perception of Patients with HIV/AIDS from Stigma and Discrimination it is stated that the views of many who were interviewed was that ‘HIV-infected people are considered socially unusual, they are unpleasantly different from the public and threatening to the public’ (Saki et al., 2015:1).
Comparatively, within the USA there is a higher prevalence of violence against women whom suffer and contract HIV in comparison to men who are affected by the same disease. It is seen to be that crimes against such women are instigated and or worsened due to the fear and stigma of HIV (Gielen, 2000). Despite the overwhelming amount of violence, fear and stigma those suffering from HIV/AIDS receive regardless of sexuality. Contemporary statistics, as discussed above, support the notion that the level of hate crime centred on the LGBT community is rapidly increasing based upon historical prejudice.
The Effect of Hate Crime
Smith and Gray (2009:73) state that, ‘even with society’s increasing acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) persons, negative stereotypes persist.’ However, the reasons that specifically cause such stereotypes or in some cases hatred are largely unnoticed nor are they addressed across society. The effects that coincide with such negative stereotypes and hatred and thus directly affect members of the LGBT community are however unfortunately are not new. For years when homosexuality was illegal, relationships were conducted under the social stigma embodied by legislation which inevitably led to secrecy. This element of secrecy and society’s unwillingness to acknowledge homosexual relationships led to those within the community being deemed to be deviants. This concept is supported by the aforementioned NAT, whom suggest that, ‘the association of gay sex… were regarded as “deviant” (National Aids Trust, 2003:2).
The deviance and questioning towards societal norms, whereby same-sex relationships are seen to be different and subsequently deviant needs to be addressed when discussing homosexual relationships and behaviours. ‘The conservative and religious counter-mobilization neutralized many successes of the lesbian and gay movement and was largely successful in framing homosexuality as a deviant lifestyle’ (Hart-Brinson,2016:4). The normative and culturally accepting norms of society today, show that in the present day the relationships between men and women are slowly evolving into relationships which cannot be compared to those in history. Families which include two fathers, or two mothers are becoming more common across society yet are still challenged in order to protect preconceived and out of touch norms which suggest this behaviour to remain deviant within contemporary society.
The article by the NAT goes on to suggest that many believe ‘gay men are often seen as deserving to be HIV positive’ (National Aids Trust, 2003:2). This further supports the concept of deviancy surrounding gay men and the wider LGBT community and has explicit links to conflict theory. Black (2014:2) states that ‘criminal behaviour; reflects the conflict between social, economic, and political interest groups.’ In relation to this concept of deviant and criminal behaviours, the LGBT community encompasses a social group which faces conflict due to historic illegality of legitimate relationships. This therefore suggests that the very action of engaging in a sexual relationship with an individual of the same gender, because of historic prohibition, can of itself be a casual factor for these individuals to partake in other criminal behaviours. Black, 2014 goes on to state that ‘crime can be the result of either culture conflict or of group conflict’ and that ‘culture conflict occurs when people act within the normative parameters of their own group; however, this behaviour conflicts with the norms and standards of the dominant group, who make the laws.’ (Black, 2014:2). This concept explains, from a criminological perspective, a rationale for why a negative stigma was attached to gay men with the normative parameters within this social group deemed as illegal and therefore a threat to the status quo of ‘respectable’ society.
A dissertation interested in locating the effects of hate crime upon the LGBT community would be lacking without attention being afforded to the psychological affects that these crimes have had upon victimised individuals. This is an area whereby there is few very detailed sources which provides a detailed narrative into the aftermath of suffering that members of the LGBT community endure based upon societal prejudice.
It is noted that:
‘lesbians and gay men who experienced an assault or other person crime based on their sexual orientation within the previous five years reported significantly more symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and anger than did their counterparts who experienced nonbiased (e.g. crimes that were opportunistic in nature but not focussed upon the recipients perceived identity) crimes in that period or no crimes at all’.(Herek et al., 1999:7)
This suggests that the traumatic effects of crime are drastically increased when the crime is based upon a preconceived bias against an individual, such as an individual’s sexuality. The understanding of the event, and the aftermath of the event are both crucial to explaining and having a positive impact upon the quality of life of an individual who has been a victim of hate crime. Yet the reasons why certain individuals act in such ways and cause in many cases both physical and emotional trauma to a person is woefully lacking from a research perspective.
Political and social impact of Pride events
Pride, Gay Pride, Gay Pride marches, all denote the same cause and offer the same meaning. Pride, a celebration of rights in the form of a parade, occur throughout the months of June and July. Pride began as an attempt to commemorate the actions of those involved in the Stonewall riots of 1969, a protest to tackle abhorrent homosexuality laws in New York in 1969. It was this event that was the catalyst that triggered Pride, a celebration of LGBT rights which is now a global occurrence. The first pride parade occurred a year after the Stonewall Riot in 1970, over 2,000 people marched across New York City, which led to many sister marches happening across the country and then the globe. These marches were the embryonic pride parades which now take place around the world in the present day (Glatter, 2016).
‘I was spat on outside a gay club at Pride 2016’.(Stonewall, 2017).
This statement is only the beginning of the thousands of statements and accounts available within current literature that give evidence to support the extreme nature of hate crimes that occur at Pride events across the UK. McFarland (2012: iii) describes Pride events as ‘cultural protest tactics that aim to achieve cultural, rather than legal/political, equality’. The importance of cultural equality, alongside legal and political legality is essential. However, this shift toward a cultural acceptance might have been perceived to be the key toward reducing homophobia, yet such events have been ongoing across the globe since 1970 with the intention of reducing homophobia through cultural acceptance. Yet there has been little to no effective reprisal of the effects of negative stigma or hate crimes upon the LGBT community. (CNN,2016).
This stigma may never fully dissolve. Legislating in favour of a ‘cause’ and enshrining ‘minority rights’ such as homosexuality does not mean acceptance. This is made clear since hate crime, a crime caused by a person’s hatred against another or a group within society is still prevalent more than fifty years after partial decriminalisation of homosexual relationships. The fact that individuals attending an event to promote equality are still facing many forms of different prejudices indicates that the modern-day society is still not equal and therefore it should not surprise us that hate crimes are still part of LGBT individuals lived realities.
In relation to the politics surrounding Pride events there are a variety of mixed and differing views surrounding the political impact these events have had. ‘By the early 1990s, lesbian and gay subcultures and politics had become more mainstreamed in America, and more visible gay and lesbian public figures, media images, and narratives had emerged’ (Micelli, 2005:9). This quote suggests the positivity that Pride has had upon the lives of many LGBT individuals within society. Yet despite this, many political motions that affect the lives of LGBT individuals took longer to materialise. This can be seen in the legalisation of same sex civil partnership. This notion was legalised in both England and the USA in 2004, despite it not being widespread across all 50 states of the USA. The reasons as to why national legalisation of same sex civil partnerships did not occur across the USA in 2004, was due to many states opposing the bill based upon devout Christian views on the sanctity of marriage. Eleven years later, in 2015, the Supreme Court decree same sex marriage legal across the entire nation. Supreme Court official Anthony Kennedy stated that all that was required was for all to have ‘equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The US Constitution grants them that right and therefore this principle was upheld by the court’. (Kennedy, 2015). This basic act of equality in the form of marriage between homosexual and heterosexual individuals was not met until 34 years after the first Pride event, which shows Pride has not had an overnight effect upon the political infrastructure within contemporary society.
Pride events deviate from the heteronormative nature of society and therefore the, ‘heteronormative culture makes heterosexuality the standard for romantic coupling in public spaces. Weddings, proms, and even the generic idea of family posit a man/woman couple as the norm and thus make same-sex pairs deviant’ (McFarland, 2012). The addition of a homosexual ‘norm’ whereby within the public sphere same sex couples are not seen to be deviant is the embodiment and social impact of Pride, unfortunately this is not a widespread view. During Pride events Becker’s concept of outsiders can be contradicted. ‘Social groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance, and by applying those rules to particular people and labelling them as outsiders’ (Becker, 1963:9). During the time of pride events; the concept of members of the LGBT community cannot be seen to fit the definition of deviant nor as outsiders as they fit with a social norm that is acceptable at that given time, however Pride events and the celebration of gay rights is not constant and therefore during the period of inconsistency the LGBT community fall back into the sub group within society who are labelled once again to be deviants.
This review of contemporary literature gives an outline into a variety
of topics which are currently being reviewed in relation to the LGBT community
and hate crimes. The prevalence of hate crime within society, its effects on
the LGBT community whilst also focusing upon the discussion surrounding the
social and political impact of Pride events, throughout this collation of
literature and vast array of reading there is a clear lack of relevant or
specific research and therefore data into the reasons why hate crimes toward
the LGBT community occur in a progressive society. Despite the lack of
literature available, that is specific into the understanding as to why hate
crimes occur; the literature that is in the domain is both relevant and crucial
and therefore needs to be addressed in order to gather a complete and holistic
view of the current and available research and literature into hate crimes that
specifically affect members of the LGBT community both in the United Kingdom
and on a global scale.
Jack Straw, in Queer Bashing highlighted that ‘the violence and fear to which gay people are subject is something which diminishes us all, the need for more effective action to prevent and detect crimes in which there is a homophobic motive’. (Straw,1996 as cited in Mason and Palmer, 1996:45)
The need for detailed research into the lived experiences of LGBT individuals and their understanding of hate crime and reasons as to why it is increasing is fundamental to understanding the actions of those committing hate crime and why in 2019 these crimes are still being committed.
The research aims for this paper outline the key areas of focus surrounding hate crime and why hate crime is increasing within contemporary society, this will be done through the gathering of data specifically focusing upon the following research aims:
In order to effectively answer and by default offer justification for the questions posed in this paper, the research aims it was concluded were best met by the collection of in depth qualitative data. This was done through the medium of semi- structured interviews with participants who have lived experiences of being a member of the LGBT community and who are students at the University of Hull.
Collecting data in this manner has many advantages over other data collection methods such as; online surveys/questionnaires. The use of semi structured interviews gathers a variety of information, in an interview, the depth of an individual’s experiences, motivations and reasoning can be gauged which in the purpose of this dissertation is paramount (Drever,2003).
The interviews, between 15 minutes to one hour in length were conducted, recorded and fully transcribed and subsequently coded into key themes which will form the basis of the data analysis and discussion section of this dissertation. The participants of this research were selected due to their eligibility to fit the criteria of being both members of the LGBT community whilst also being currently studying students within the University of Hull. Semi- structured interviews were conducted across a range of students from the LGBT community, this was intended to include three individuals who identified as lesbians; three individuals who identified a gay; two bisexual individuals, one male and one female and two transgender participants.
Having conducted 6 in depth interviews, covering all aspects of LGBT community it was evident that the data being collected was becoming saturated and therefore, conducting more interviews to gather the same data was not worthwhile. Despite this small yet representative sample, gathering such detailed data from individuals across the spectrum of the LGBT community was fundamental in order to gather data specific and detailed enough to answer the research aims stated above.
Capitalising upon this form of interviewing allowed for the ontological questions of how and why hate crime occurs and the effects this has upon the lives of LGBT individuals. This approach applied the concept of verstehen to the research allowing for an interpretive understanding of the participant and their opinions and subsequently allowed for ‘a more nuanced and humanized form of study’ (Gann,2017:34). Which, due to the sensitive and potentially emotionally distressing content of the interviews conducted was required.
When conducting this research, the concept of bias needed to be addressed.
‘Bias exists in all study designs, and although researchers should attempt to minimise bias, outlining potential sources of bias enables greater critical evaluation of the research findings and conclusions.’ (Smith and Noble, 2014: 100)
Bias within research is hard to eliminate and as a member of the LGBT community, divorcing myself from this research on a personal level proved difficult, yet without my own sexuality being known to the participants collecting data of this kind would have proven difficult. It was felt that members of the LGBT community would not open up to a heterosexual researcher in the same way as they would to someone who identifies as a lesbian and thus, this bias proved helpful and essential when collecting the data required to try and understand why hate crime is increasing in the 21st century.
Moreover, throughout this process the need to adhere and comply with the ethical boundaries outlined by the FACE ethics committee was paramount. The participants of this study have been anonymised and subsequently been assigned pseudonyms to ensure confidential and potentially harmful data cannot be attributed to specific individuals.
In order to gather such data, an accurate sampling method to allow for data from a variety of viewpoints was required. This, in turn led to the selection of a sampling method known as a purposive, non-probability sample. Additionally, the most feasible way, on a small scale to gather the widest and therefore most representative range of opinions. The use of this method can be seen to present and allow for ‘a sample that can be logically assumed to be representative of the population’ (Battaglia, 2011: 2).
Evaluation and Limitation of Semi-Structured Interviews
When conducting interviews of this nature, it is fundamental to address and therefore comply with the prescribed ethical limitations as mentioned above. This research could, for many participants have a detrimental effect upon their mental health. In engaging with this research, many participants disclosed emotional topics which may affect their emotional wellbeing. This is due to the fact that one’s sexuality still can attract stigmatising behaviour, both within and outside of the private sphere.
It is acknowledged that talking about any negative lived experiences of being part of the LGBT community may be upsetting to participants and therefore in order to minimise these risks participants were made aware that they, at any point, can remove themselves from the research or suspend the interview. Details at both the beginning and end of the interview signposted individuals to both the university and NHS mental health and wellbeing services. Orb and Eisenhauer et al., provide guidance into this topic and state that ‘ethical dilemmas that may rise from an interview are difficult to predict but the researcher needs to be aware of sensitive issues and potential conflicts of interest’ (Orb and Eisenhauer et al., 2001:94). These ethical dilemmas were addressed and managed when conducting these interviews and subsequently all participants were willing to fulfil the entire interview and did not use their right to withdraw.
The choice to select a research method that yields in depth qualitative data was chosen purposefully over a gathering a large amount of quantitative data, the purpose of this was to gather information crucial to this dissertation and to allow for participants ‘to say what they really feel’ (McNeill and Chapman, 2005: 38) surrounding the topic of hate crime and the LGBT community within the city of Hull. Despite this method being more time consuming the use of qualitative research gave ‘meanings, concepts, definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols, and descriptions of things. In contrast, quantitative research refers to counts and measures of things’ (Berg, 2001:3). The nature of the flexibility that was also possible with the use of semi-structured interviews and allowed for probing and prompts in order to gauge more of an insight into the respondent’s opinion and therefore the focus was not on the gathering of counts and measures as it would be when using quantitative data collection methods.
This said, in relation to the use of a large quantitative sample, the data collected within this research is not going to be completely representative, despite that a sub section of a community has been explored and therefore will provide adequate data in order to fulfil the above aims and potentially provide more thematic arguments which can provide additional discussion points.
Method of Analysis
‘Thematic analysis is a method for identifying, analysing and reporting patterns (themes) within data.’ (Braun and Clarke, 2006: 79)
It was this concept, outlined by Braun and Clarke (2006) that underpins the analysis of the qualitative data that was collected from undertaking interviews. The use of thematic analysis provided a structured and detailed way to identity key areas and themes from in depth transcripts gathered from the semi-structured interviews conducted. The transcription of the raw audio data was in many ways time consuming, frustrating and sometimes boring; it was in fact a fundamental tool in understanding the data and isolating concepts of interest early on. (Riessman, 1993)
In order to undertake a thematic analysis of the raw data collected, the phases above were rigorously adhered too, culminating in the production of this dissertation. Following such prescribed phases, the analysis of data was swiftly ordered into a coherent and logical manner and thus allowing for themes to be easily identified. This method of analysis is common place when qualitative data has been collected. Boyatzis (1998) states that the use of ‘thematic analysis allows the interpretive social scientist’s social construction of meaning to be articulated’ (Boyatzis, 1998: xii). This notion is fully applicable to the use of thematic analysis within the specific analysis of the data set within this dissertation. Using such method has enabled meaning and verstehen mentioned above to be attached to the thoughts and feelings of the participants and therefore has been fundamental in outlining the key themes from the raw data.
Moreover, despite the lengthy nature of this method, the use of semi-structured interviews can be seen as the most appropriate method of data collection for this dissertation; in doing so the data gathered was detailed and fluid based upon the responses given by the participant and therefore led to the breadth of the data able to be analysed in relation to the topic of Pride and the increasing incidents of LGBT centred hate crime. In the forthcoming chapters the findings of the data gathered using the above methods will discussed and therefore be evident that the data gathered is privileging the knowledge of one of society’s oppressed groups.
Similarly, as stated by Braun and Clarke (2006), the culmination of thematic analysis is the production of the report which explains findings and critical answers. The themes provided above will allow for a detailed discussion surrounding the data, alongside criminological and sociological concepts, providing relevant contextual theory to support the findings made from this research.
4 Data Analysis
In order to understand why hate crime is increasing within the LGBT community, and to gather the opinions of those directly affected by the increase, undertaking the use of semi-structured interviews was crucial in order to gather the most honest and detailed responses from the participants. Throughout this chapter the way in which the raw interview data was analysed into an organised and coherent set of themes will be shown and therefore will provide the organised and coherent data required for upcoming sections of this paper.
Presentation of Data
Using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) method, clear themes were isolated and are analysed in this chapter. The four themes generated reflect the participant’s opinions and indicate direct and indirect links to why hate crime is increasing within the UK from the perspective of the group. The themes, that have been selected are based upon the raw data gathered and were prioritised to be those which were most key and thus the most relevant to this study.
Incidents of Unreported Hate Crimes
When transcribing the data, it was evident that the majority of participants interviewed were not only victims of hate crimes but were also very unwilling to report hate crimes for various reasons. The first example of this topic, stated within the first interview undertaken, when discussing the personal effect, a hate crime has upon an individual, and the subsequent consequences the participant was very clear of her view towards way in which this crime would be dealt with by the police.
‘It’s like a he said she said kind of thing, it’s not actually going to get anywhere’.(Kirsty, Lesbian)
Understanding that many people who have been victim of a verbal hate crime are unlikely to report such crime due to their feelings toward the way in which they would get treated or in which the crime would be dealt which shows that it is still common within the contemporary society that crimes of this nature are not reported.
Much like the statement above, similar views were held by other participants of this research. The below quote shows once again how this participant feels about the reporting of a verbal hate crime
‘It’s just verbal I don’t think I would…would the police take it that seriously if it was verbal.’(Charlie, Gay)
Once again, this statement shows that many LGBT individuals feel as if the crime was reported it would not be deemed serious enough for the police’s time, based upon only a verbal comment, these examples, led to the search within the transcripts for more responses of this nature, in order to classify this as a theme and examples were found throughout all transcripts. This in turn shows that hate crimes still remain unreported and thus the figure reported is still a drastic underestimation of what occurs across society on a daily basis.
Understanding that most of the participants of this research have been a victim of hate crime and felt unable or unsure if this crime should be reported requires a greater education and awareness surrounding legislation affecting the LGBT community. That said strides in awareness and perception of what constitutes a hate have been made, which in turn has seen an increase in the reported number of hate crimes. However, based on further analysis of this data, even when taking this phenomenon into account, reporting figures are be drastically disproportionate to the number of offences actually committed.
Commercialisation of Pride
The notion that Pride events are becoming grossly commercialised is a commonality found across the data set, when participants were asked about their own personal experience of Pride. Participants discussed a perceived surge in costly rainbow apparel being available in shops, whilst also discussing the use of the rainbow on products completely unrelated to Pride or the LGBT community. This can be seen in the quote below whereby the participant highlights how the capitalisation on the LGBT community is done entirely to make money, as opposed to funding support for LGBT rights or charities that focus on supporting LGBT community members.
‘It’s a money maker you see it all the time, you can buy a top for £50 with a rainbow on and they don’t actually support LGBT rights’.(Kirsty, Lesbian)
The concept of achieving an inflated profit by further exploiting a vulnerable group is witnessed above. Many LGBT individuals may make ‘rainbow’ purchases with little understanding of the uses to which their hard earn money will be put. In a similar style, other participants commented on the selling of the Pride rainbow to make money yet had differing opinions as to why it was unacceptable.
‘They put rainbows on everything but that isn’t their symbol to take. That isn’t there symbol to attach to what they sell’.(Hayley, Transgender)
The ‘selling’ of the symbol attached to the LGBT community is seen by the participant above to be wrong, to take away a symbol from a group who use that to show their own struggles in the contemporary society is not too be applied to a menial daily item in a shop with no relevance to the LGBT community.
These statements, although different both show that commercialisation that is occurring surrounding LGBT Pride events and awareness campaigns, this theme has very close links to the theme next identified yet both concepts were deemed too significant and poignant to those interviewed to be grouped into one section.
Erosion of Pride’s political motive
Much like the above theme, which both have similar notions of exploitation of the vulnerable LGBT community participants of this research showed concern toward the reduction and in some cases lack of political awareness surrounding Pride events.
Pride was born from the 1969 Stonewall riots, and from that point Pride marches and festivals were used as methods of advocating equal rights and inclusion for all. This shift in motive is now what many LGBT individuals feel is wrong with Pride in the modern day and thus provides more reason as to why hate crime is increasing, as the message of Pride is warped more stigma and a view that it is becoming unnecessary is attached those who do feel it is required are at greater risk of becoming a victim.
‘It was like a big party’(Anna, Lesbian)
The quote above shows how a specific member of the LGBT community feels towards Pride in the current day. The idea that the event was like a big party, shows yes, the fun atmosphere that coincides with the event but also does not give reason to support the fundamental need to promote a more inclusive world for LGBT members to be part of.
On the contrary, the quote taken from another transcript directly states that they believe Pride has lost its meaning.
‘I think it’s just parade of over sexuality and attention seeking it’s definitely lost its meaning and what it’s for’.(Connor, Gay)
The concept that Pride is becoming an event in order to display an individual’s overtly sexual orientation and whilst doing so gain attention is why the participant above feels Pride has lost its meaning and its initial aims blurred. Namely for promoting the LGBT community and protesting for equality.
Public Perception and Visibility of Pride
The final theme denoted and grouped from the transcript data was that surrounding the public perception and the visibility of Pride events, much like the opinions in relation to the lack of political motive surround Pride events, this theme also encompassed the view that over sexualisation may cause negative feedback toward the LGBT community and thus is a factor as to why hate crime may be increasing. The opinion of the participant below shows that the visibility of LGBT people at Pride events may be a factor as to why hate crime is increasing and as to why negative stigma is still being attached to members of the LGBT community.
‘More visibility people are more likely to show and share their opinions, I mean it’s not really opinion it’s just being nasty’.(Richard, Bisexual)
This perceived correlation between visibility and stigma, although stated by the above participant, is extended by his comment ‘it’s just being nasty’. The nastiness a by-product of prejudice surrounding a group within society, which is portrayed negatively across many realms of contemporary society; such as social media, the arts, TV news, sport and the military. Willing or reckless facilitators of negative LGBT stereotypes and by default the commission, of specific hate crimes by those adversely influenced by the portrayal of these tired, outdated and negative stereotypes.
Much like the statement used within an earlier theme, the idea that increased and overtly sexualised behaviour attaches a negative stigma toward the LGBT community is once again stated below.
‘I think in some parts they can be a little over sexualised, that can have a negative impact upon the public… because that can cause negative feedback’.(Charlie, Gay)
In regard to the sexualisation of Pride and the effect that this has upon those who prior to this have not been exposed to this concept, the perception of the LGBT community may be tarnished with one view which is not representative of the entire community, yet this still is the way many perceive the LGBT community as a whole.
The analysis of the data and the creations of the themes above have enabled a detailed discussion surrounding reasons as to why hate crime is increasing within contemporary society. It is essential to appreciate that none of the themes above are independently operating and that they all have a direct relationship to one another and to the concept of why hate crime is increasing.
This chapter provides a social scientific analysis of the themes which came to light during the data analysis phase of the research. Links are established with sociological and criminological theories and related literature in order to offer an academic analysis of the lived experiences of the individuals who took part in this study.
Incidents of Unreported Hate Crimes
‘I got chased down an ally and set on fire. They took a lighter to my clothes because I was gay and they didn’t like it’.(Anna, Lesbian)
The first theme which established itself during the data analysis process was the non-reporting of incidents of hate crime. The quote above, reflects the experiences of hate crime that affects LGBT individuals on a daily basis (Bachmann and Gooch, 2011). Five of the six participants interviewed for this study, had been victims of an LGBT specific hate crime. However, despite the commonality of experience which participants shared, what should be noted is that all individuals who were a victim of such crimes failed to report these incidents to the police which suggests that under-reporting may be a behaviour practised by other members of the LGBT community. Indeed, under-reporting is common in the LGBT community. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) report covering 2016/17 notes that 32% of individuals (whose sexuality was not stipulated) felt that the crime was too trivial / not worth reporting. This view mirrors the participants for example’;
‘I don’t think the police would take it (incident of hate crime) seriously’.(Kirsty, Lesbian)
For Kirsty and many other respondents, the perception was that hate crimes will not be deemed as something the police would take seriously. This data gathered surrounding both incidents of hate crime and the subsequent lack of reporting directly correlate toward two of the aims set out within this research in relation to the lived experiences of LGBT individuals and the attitude toward experiences and reporting of hate crimes.
Commercialisation of Pride
‘It’s about money, well course it is it’s a business at the end of the day’– (Connor, Gay)
Participants were well aware of the increasing commercialisation of Pride events over the years. This increase in awareness and the rise in late capitalism can be linked to this increasing awareness and eventual increase in commercialisation.
The core area of accumulation in late capitalism necessitates capital that develops forms of direct association, the very forms that threaten to subvert the capitalist system and its powers of control over labour and empower labour towards socialism. (Kennedy,2010:832)
Kennedy, states that accumulation in late capitalism occurs through the formation of direct association. The direct association business owners, large corporations and the state have to the LGBT community due to this method gives reason to suggest why commercialisation of such events are occurring in the contemporary late capitalist society.
The staging of Pride primarily achieve for the profit for an establishment elite is the epitome of commercialisation, and by default, an event originally designed to highlight the need for equality is subjugated into just another means of commercially exploiting a stigmatised group .
Participants related the growing expense of Pride, the selling of merchandise and companies using the rainbow flag on products to show support for the community during the months leading up to and including the event was considered a form of exploitation. Reducing the identity of a group as nothing more than a commodity is indicative of the nature of how Pride and similar awareness events affect the LGBT community. This understanding, of how members of the LGBT feel toward commercialisation gives subsequent understanding, lived and experiences of how commercialisation of such events effect’s LGBT students at The University of Hull.
‘The term queer into a commodity sign’ (Vargas, 2010: ix)
The perceived understanding and alleged acceptance demonstrated by commercial companies seems bizarre considering that research suggests that hate crime against the group is increasing. Vargas argues the term queer has become a commodity and is useful in order to capitalise upon a niche area of society in which people claim to understand in order to not be perceived as homophobic, however in reality, the overt openness and publicity surrounding the LGBT community is having a detrimental effect upon both LGBT individual and the community as a whole.
Moreover, on an individual scale it is stated that ‘homophobia is a central organizing principle of our cultural definition of manhood’ (Brod and Kaufman. 1994:323). This quote shows how the act of homophobia is central to masculinity. Therefore, the acceptance of the LGBT community is used to capitalise on a niche market, which many may struggle to understand and accept yet use in order to not be deemed controversial in the 21st century.
Commercialisation, although cannot be technically deemed to be a hate crime is as detrimental to the LGBT community and its individual members as an incident of a verbal or physical attack. The nature of such exploitation and the perception that something as important as acceptance and solidarity shown at Pride events can be bought out in order to increase the sales of a corporation.
This notion is underpinned by Marxist theory surrounding the consumer market which is fundamental to the workings of a functional society. ‘Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps’ (Marx and Engles, 1888:1). In a more contemporary view point, the buyers of goods are seen to be ‘consumers are first and foremost gatherers of sensations; they are collectors of things’(Bauman, 1999: 38). This notion theorised by Bauman supports the early work of Marx and Engles, both suggesting that the consumers are fundamental too society, firstly to enable and explicitly show the divide amongst classes, whilst also showing the futile nature to require to gather and collect commodities which for the basis of this paper the LGBT community provide.
From this, it is clear that the commodity of buying into the LGBT brand is a method of commercialisation and consumerism and from this research it is evident that this is not reciprocated by those who identify as LGBT, this shows the realm of possible hostility between the LGBT community and those who capitalise financially upon their struggle is evident.
Erosion of Pride’s political motive
The gradual erosion and subsequent loss of the political message in which Pride was initiated from was key in understanding Pride and how this may have increased hate crime.
‘It’s always pandering to people rather than just celebrating us.’- (Richard, Bisexual)
For Richard, the meaning and the reasons Pride was founded upon has been eradicated. Instead, Pride has become more of an opportunity for a sexualised day out whereby members of the non- LGBT community are celebrated over those whom the event is for, is commonplace.
The focus on sexualisation when linked to the continuing deviantisation of the community in general equates to a volatile situation whereby ‘deviant’ sexualities are covertly deviantised for a day, with this being disguised as ‘fun’.
In contemporary media, notions of this perception in relation to Pride can be evidenced via a variety of platforms. Holmes suggests;
‘It is no longer a spontaneous collection of individuals who want to march through the streets showing the world that they are not ashamed of being gay, and stating it in public’ (Holmes, 2017)
This statement surrounding the changing nature of Pride, taken directly from ‘The Guardian’ shows the widening nature and discussion around this topic and thus showing that it is not a minority stand point and this loss of political stand point is having a detrimental effect on the LGBT community as a whole. Participants believed that loss of the political message renders the intent of the original event pointless.
‘I think the message should still be there, but it isn’t; I think it has been warped’ –(Hayley, Transgender)
Hayley argues that the message of acceptance, understanding and the fight for equality has been taken over by:
‘Cis-hetero white girls looking for a gay best friend’ (Hayley, Transgender)
The stereotyped ideal of the gay man, who will be any girl’s best friend is becoming the overwhelming reason for why individuals are attending Pride. The capitalisation of this concept and a retreat from the cause of support for LGBT equality across the globe cause many in the LGBT community to believe the problem is leading to an increase in both hate crime and a diminution of the value and effect of Pride as a whole.
Public perception and visibility of Pride
‘It is more of a party and a piss up rather than any message at all, it may as well not be called Pride but let’s all get glittery and drunk’– (Hayley, Transgender)
Participants suggested that what they imagined the public perception of Pride and related events to be offers an explanation for the increase in hate crimes against the LGBT community. The perception of the general public towards anything which can considered to be deviant is important as Powell and Menedian note when discussing the sociological theory of ‘othering’;
‘Othering as a set of dynamics, processes, and structures that engender marginality and persistent inequality across any of the full range of human differences based on group identities. Dimensions of othering include, but are not limited to, religion, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (class), disability, sexual orientation, and skin tone. Although the axes of difference that undergird these expressions of othering vary considerably and are deeply contextual, they contain a similar set of underlying dynamics’(Powell and Menedian, 2016:17; emphasis added)
It is these ‘underlying dynamics’ which may suggest that awareness events such as Pride may be causing harm to members of the LGBT community. LGBT individuals are othered from society due their perceived difference. This theory of othering directly correlates to whythe public perception of Pride and the LGBT community is so paramount, for othering in general?
An example of this can be seen that ‘the Muslim women is doubly othered in the Western imaginary; she is constructed once as the women and once as a Muslim’ (Ortega and Alcoff, 2009:74).
This concept already negatively impacts upon the community. Therefore, the need to ensure that a high-profile occasion is perceived as positive is essential towards achieving social equality for LGBT people in general.
‘I think in some parts they can be a little over sexualised, that can have a negative impact upon the public… because that can cause negative feedback’–(Charlie, Gay)
Throughout the research 4 out of the 6 participants interviewed stated that they felt that the overt sexualisation of some individuals at Pride, were factors as to why negative stigma was associated with the LGBT community by members of the mass populous.
Much like the inequality faced by women in the criminal justice system, the concept of double deviance can be similarly applied to perception of the LGBT community. Defined to explain the harsher treatment of women in the criminal justice system, the theory of double deviance is outlined to be due to their deviance in breaking social norms by breaking the law, whilst also deviating from gender norms on the normal behaviours of women. (Carlen, 1987).
The concept of othering and the notion of double deviance applied to the overtly sexualised members of the LGBT community, are evident through the contemporary Pride events the United Kingdom. These factors and in some cases, stereotypes are based upon the perception of the wider, non-LGBT community and thus give reason to suggest why hate crime is increasing within contemporary society whilst also understanding the effect Pride has upon the LGBT community in the UK.
The topic of this dissertation and thus the overwhelming question throughout has been upon the focus as to why LGBT specific hate crime is increasing as society is diversifying. The lack of academic research into the reasons why hate crime is increasing, provided a barrier to gathering directly relevant literature. Despite this, the literature used provided background, context and the effects of hate crime to both the individual and to commodity held ideology. The research conducted in this dissertation therefore adds to the body of literature providing added insight into the lived experiences and understanding as to why LGBT individuals felt that in contemporary society the person they fall in love with or the gender they associate with continues to attract stigmatising opinions which affects their sense of self and interactions with others.
The focus was around awareness, particularly awareness of events at the forefront of peaceful protest such as LGBT Pride. Although its aims, the promotion of LGBT issues by a significant visual presence remain positive, Pride paradoxically was viewed by some within the LGBT family as an overriding factor why participants felt hate crime was on the increase. The reasons those interviewed believed the LGBT community was continuing to fall victim to such crimes was the insidious commercialisation of Pride events, the accompanying erosion of its political motive and its overt sexualisation. They also felt that hate was still little understood given the chronic lack of under-reporting of such crimes.
These above factors and thus the themes identified within the data analysis section of this research, provide definitive answers while supporting this papers research aims. ‘An increasing public awareness of Pride events may paradoxically be feeding an increase in LGBT directed hate crime’; whilst chronic underreporting of such crimes creates a void of misunderstanding and misinformation.
The need to understand, the lived experiences of LGBT individuals at the University of Hull, was highlighted through this set of interviews and the resulting data and has supported the need for further research into this area across the LGBT community. Although this sample is not representative of the LGBT community as a whole, the findings that all of the individuals sampled for this research are unwilling to report hate crime is an important one. The heinous nature of LGBT specific hate crime and the lack of researching and understanding as to why it is occurring whilst society is apparently at its most diverse has left an open gap for the need to gather a greater insight.
The question remains that, against a faux backdrop of inclusivity, why does hate crime continue and why could Pride events partly be to blame? Further research needs to incorporate the perceptions of the public in order to gain this depth of understanding.
Based upon the research undertaken within this dissertation, the possibility is that the issues of hate crime will only increase given society’s forward trajectory and the focus upon capitalism and consumerism and its potential to eradicate the message of Pride.
negative treatment of those who identify as part of the LGBT community needs to
be addressed by tackling those who act upon their own prejudices. This can only
be done by including those with such prejudices in research to discover why
they harbour the views they do.
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