One in five LGBTQ+ people have been harassed or faced abuse and violence while travelling on public transport in London in the past year, new research suggests.
Four out of five respondents to a survey by London TravelWatch said they change their behaviour or appearance to “fit in” so they avoid abuse or harassment when travelling.
Two out of three of those who had experienced abuse or harm when travelling in London said bystanders witnessed the incident but did not intervene.
The passenger watchdog said many LGBTQ+ people it spoke to have little confidence or trust in the police, so incidents on London’s public transport network often go unreported.
Two-thirds of the 600 people surveyed felt there was always a possible threat of violence or harassment when using public transport.
Some felt this more than others, with trans+ people, Deaf and Disabled LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ People of Colour more likely to express this view than the overall sample.
More than four in five respondents who said they were victimised on public transport in the past year did not report their experiences to the police, either because they felt they would not be able to do anything, or for fear about how they or their report might be handled.
Michael Roberts, chief executive of London TravelWatch, said: “We already knew that LGBTQ+ people had serious concerns about their personal security on public transport, but our findings lay bare the scale of the problem.
“Two-thirds of LGBTQ+ people reported that they had experienced at least one form of victimisation on public transport in the last year. Worryingly, more respondents said London had become less safe in the past five years, than those who thought it had become safer.
“Our report highlights a community on constant alert when travelling around the capital, unable to express its identity and feeling unsupported by the wider public and the police.
“This situation should not be accepted anywhere in a tolerant society and certainly not in a vibrant, diverse world city such as London.”
Siwan Hayward, Transport for London’s director of security, policing and enforcement, said: “We want everyone to feel safe and be safe when travelling around London at all times without fear of abuse, and hate crime has absolutely no place on our network.
“We are committed to ensuring all passengers and staff are protected from harm and we have a bold and clear campaign across our network which encourages customers and staff to stand in solidarity against hate and abusive behaviour.
“We will continue to work closely with LGBTQ+ groups and stakeholders in response to the London TravelWatch recommendations to ensure that no one ever faces abuse or discrimination for who they are.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Furnell of British Transport Police said: “Preventing and tackling hate crime is a British Transport Police priority. Everyone has a right to travel without fear and no-one should be subjected to violence or harassment because of who they are.
“We work closely with LGBT charities and the community to ensure that we understand the issues that they face and can take proactive steps to prevent hate crimes.
“We conduct highly visible patrols and dedicated operations across the railway to ensure the safety and security of passengers and staff.
“Our officers are ready to respond to incidents of hate crime immediately, and with access to more than 150,000 CCTV cameras across the rail network they can quickly identify offenders and make arrests.”
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