Here's Why Most U.K. Gay Men Are Afraid to Hold Hands

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After polling British LGBT people, the U.K. civil rights group Stonewall has found that their circumstances are worse than one would think. A fifth of queer people in the nation have experienced a hate crime motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity in the past year, and only one in five victims have reported it to authorities. 

Among the poll's findings is that minorities, particularly LGBT Asians, experienced more hate crimes than their white counterparts, with 34 percent reporting having been a victim in the past year. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they were afraid to hold hands with their partners in public, and the figure rose among gay men, with 58 percent saying they were afraid to do so.

The advocacy group observed that LGBT people face hatred on the street and within their communities. "The research reveals that anti-LGBT abuse extends far beyond acts of hate and violence on our streets. Many LGBT people still endure poor treatment while using public services and going about their lives, whether in their local shop, gym, school or place of worship," Stonewall noted its website.

Ten percent of respondents struggled to obtain housing, and a sixth said they have faced discrimination in restaurants. The organization recommends that police forces improve training to better deal with homophobic and transphobic hate crimes and that hate-crimes laws be reassessed so that hate crimes against LGBT people are treated the same as those against racial or religious minorities, as aggravated offenses. David Issac, chairman of the nation's Equality and Human Rights Commission, is working to end what he sees as Britain's "hierarchy of hate crimes," telling the BBC, "All hate crime is abhorrent. LGBT people, like everyone else, have the right to live safely in the community."

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