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Gay rights
leaders call for end to London hate crimes

Gay rights
leaders call for end to London hate crimes

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London's gay rights leaders are demanding that police officials do more to try and stop a growing number of deadly gay bashings that have taken place in and around the city this year. Jody Dobrowski (pictured) is the latest victim.

London's gay rights leaders are demanding that police do more to stop a growing number of deadly gay bashings that have taken place in and around the city this year. Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, told The Guardian newspaper that the number of antigay hate crimes has risen 8.5% over the past year--while other types of hate crimes have fallen about 4%. This is "people swinging their fists, not just shouting at people in the streets," he told the newspaper. "And this is in London--not those places that might be even less tolerant. I don't know the statistics for Grimsby, Kettering, or Shrewsbury, but indications are that in some places people have become socially withdrawn; gay people are becoming a social category rather like old people, who prefer not to go out at night out of fear of violence." The latest gay man to die was 24-year-old Jody Dobrowski, who had lived in London since 2001. On Friday he was going to visit a friend when he was beaten to death in a well-known cruising area. Officials at Scotland Yard told reporters that the killers were so enraged that they had "no use for a weapon." Their fists and feet were "enough to inflict the injuries to the head, neck, and chest from which Mr. Dobrowski died in hospital at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday," according to The Independent newspaper. In the past month alone three assaults have occurred in the area where Dobrowski was killed. On September 13 a victim escaped from being stabbed with a piece of wire by poking his assailant in the eye. Two weeks ago a man was beaten unconscious by three attackers in the same area, according to TheIndependent. Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group Outrage! told The Independent that "it is unlikely to be [the attackers'] first queer-bashing attack, and unless they are caught, it may not be their last. These killers could kill again." The latest national statistics on antigay crime show that between April 2004 and March 2005, 317 cases had a "homophobic element." There were 190 guilty pleas, but only 34 convictions at trial. A quarter of the cases were dropped because the victim refused to testify. Officials admit the latest attacks may be only the tip of the iceberg. "The level of hate crime is high, and the level of reporting is low. Very few homophobic attacks are reported--far lower than the level of reported attacks of general violent crime," said Tor Docherty, chief executive of the gay group Galop, which counsels victims of homophobic attacks. "People come to Galop about attacks they don't want to go to the police over, and we then refer them to the police." (Chad Graham, Advocate.com)

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