This information sheet gives advice to LGBT+ people who have been targeted by online hate crime. It also gives advice about how to stand up to hate online, and how you can support LGBT+ friends who are experiencing online hate crime.
You have a right to be who you are and live authentically without fear of violence, abuse or harassment, both online and offline. This information sheet provides an overview of the options LGBT+ people have in regards to combatting online hate.
If you experience or witness hate speech or hate crime online, remember:
- Stay calm and don’t retaliate with abuse or insults
- Tell someone: a friend, the platform, Galop, and/or the police
- Keep a copy of the incident
Keep a record
Whether or not you want to report to the police or another agency right now, it can be useful to keep a record of the abuse you are experiencing in case you decide to take action at a later date. Seemingly one-off or trivial occurrences can sometimes multiply over time into a pattern of behaviour that is an offence, such as stalking or harassment. It is really useful to have evidence of all the instances to build a complete picture so that agencies can take action. It is best to document the abuse as it occurs, as the content or user profile may be later removed by the abuser or the platform.
Take a screenshot of the abusive content and a URL link to the poster’s profile where possible.
Make a note of:
- the date/ time
- any details about the abuser
- what the abusive content was
- the impact it had on you
- details of any action you
Report to the application or website
Most apps and websites have built-in reporting features, or an email to contact the administrators. Keep your privacy settings updated, and find out how to use the untag, block and report features on applications and websites you use:
Verbal abuse in public
You don’t need to know if something is a crime before you speak to the police. You can report an incident to the police by:
- calling 999 for emergencies or 101 for non-emergencies
- reporting in-person to a local police station
- online through True Vision: https://beta.met. uk/true-vision-report-hate-crime/ you can report anonymously if you choose, the crime will still be recorded.
Depending on the relationship or contact you had with the person being abusive, you may be able to apply for an injunction to prevent the abuse from continuing. For example:
- If the abuser is an ex-partner or relative you could apply for a non-molestation order under the Family Law Act 1996 forbidding your abuser from threatening, harassing or pestering you
- If your abuser is a stranger or you do not have a close connection to them you may be able to apply for an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 forbidding your abuser from continuing the online
- At the end of criminal proceedings, whether there has been a conviction or an acquittal, where appropriate a CPS lawyer can make an application for a type of injunction called a restraining
Galop and other third party organisations
If you do not wish to speak to the police, you can also use a third party reporting agency. These are independent organisations trained to make reports about hate crime to the police on behalf of victims and witnesses. If want to report a hate crime anonymously or would like advice and information about the support in your area, contact Galop.
Standing up to hate
Some derogatory content falls outside the protection of the law but reinforces inequality and creates a hostile social climate. You do not have to be the target of hate speech or hate crime to take action against it. Each of us can be an ally for people experiencing online abuse, and challenge abuse and discrimination when we see it. Even if it’s not unlawful and/or the application or website will not take it down, you can still do something about it:
- Post your own statement in support of the targeted group, and promoting equality, fairness, dignity and the right of everyone to live free from abuse and discrimination. Positive messages are retweeted/ reblogged more, and for longer, than abusive
- Make it known online that you disagree with Good-hearted humour, targeted at the content of the abuse rather than the abuser, can be a powerful tool. Don’t fuel the abuse by giving attention to the abuser or their comments, and definitely don’t be abusive or insulting in return.
- Join positive campaigns that aim to raise awareness of LGBT+ identities.
Supporting your friends
Online abuse can make people feel isolated. People may cut themselves off from online networks and support because they don’t know if they can trust people online. The stress of online abuse may lead people to become withdrawn and make it harder to maintain friendships, activities and work.
Support from friends, family and other online users can be very helpful. If you know a friend, family member or colleague who is being targeted online you can help by:
- Treating them with the respect and care that the abuser is denying them
- Reassuring them that you believe them and will support them
- Keeping their confidence and keeping the information they tell you private
- Offering to help research useful information and resources
- Offering to help them to get advice and report to the website, Galop or the police.
Remember, privacy and agency are key. Don’t assume that because your friend is out as LGBT+ to you, they are out to everyone in their lives.
Replying to the abuse without checking with them first may risk escalating the abuse by making it more public, or inadvertently disclose more private information. Everyone is individual and will want to deal with what is happening in their own way- ask them what approach they want to take and how best you can support them.