Will was attacked for being gay. How can we end homophobic hate crime? | Robbie de Santos

Anti-LGBT crimes must be made equal under law to those motivated by race or faith, but education must change hearts and minds

What happened to Will Mayrick was undoubtedly a hate crime. Back in October, he was physically and verbally harassed on the London underground by two teenagers (aged 16 and 17) who forced him to apologise for being gay. This week, the two boys were sentenced to attend youth offender meetings for 12 months and pay £170 in compensation and costs.

For such a nasty, unprovoked attack motivated purely by Will’s sexuality, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. The inadequacy of this sentencing highlights a wider problem with how anti-LGBT hate crimes are tackled. As it stands, not all hate crimes are treated equally under the law. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity are not considered aggravated offences, meaning they carry a lower maximum sentence than racially or faith-motivated hate crime. This sends an extremely hurtful and damaging message that anti-LGBT attacks are less serious than those based on other factors. It’s something the government committed to addressing in its 2017 manifesto, and must deliver on.

Related: Homophobic attacks in UK rose 147% in three months after Brexit vote

Related: Hate crime linked to schools in England and Wales soars

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