Reprinted from Wales Online: 16:18, 2 April 2015 By Liz Day
Stonewall Cymru is calling on people to contact their parliamentary candidates for support in challenging homophobic bullying and hate crime
Rainbow flag at RCT council offices in Clydach ValeRainbow flag at RCT council offices in Clydach Vale
One in three gay pupils in Wales have changed their plans for further education due to homophobic bullying, according to data from an equality charity.
In the run-up to the General Election, Stonewall Cymru is calling on its supporters to contact their local parliamentary candidates for support in challenging homophobic bullying and hate crime.
Work to be done
Charity director Andrew White said: “The progress made during recent parliaments is something to celebrate, but we’re acutely aware that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people still face bullying, discrimination and prejudice.”
According to the charity’s most recent research in Wales, 43% of primary school teachers said that their pupils had experienced homophobic bullying or name-calling.
Related: Wales’ schools failing to monitor homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying finds study
In secondary schools, this figure was even higher, with 89% of staff reporting that their pupils had experienced harassment for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Across the UK, the charity believes that 75,000 young people are being bullied for their sexual orientation, with more than half of LGBT pupils experiencing some form of bullying. According to the charity, the use of homophobic language in Welsh schools is “endemic.”
In Welsh primary schools, 61% of teachers reported hearing pupils use the expression “you’re so gay”, rising to 93% in secondary schools.
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Stonewall says that bullying has a “profoundly damaging” impact on young people’s school experience, with three in five saying it impacts directly on their work.
With just over a month until the election, the charity has launched an equality manifesto, calling for developments such as measures to combat hate crime.
‘Bullying is stubbornly pervasive in society’
Mr White said: “Hate crime continues to be a miserable and under reported reality across Wales. Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is stubbornly pervasive in society.”
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, police in Wales recorded 270 incidents of hate crime against people on the grounds of sexual orientation in 2013-14. Welsh forces also recorded 47 hate crimes against transgender individuals over the same time period.
But the charity believes these figures are the “tip of the iceberg”, as many victims never report such crimes.
‘Equality must sit at the heart of the political agenda’
Chief executive Ruth Hunt said: “A lot has been achieved during this parliament, but the biggest risk now is that huge achievements in legal equality may result in complacency.
“Legal equality is not enough by itself, we need to encourage our candidates to help change hearts and minds in their communities in order to achieve social equality.”
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She added: “Equality must sit at the heart of the political agenda and we will call out any instances of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia that we see from any political party or candidate.
“Political parties should be thinking long and hard about how they can help us fight for a world where every LGBT person can be themselves, and be safe, every day.”