Homophobic hate crime rates in Tower Hamlets among highest in London

Ranjith 'Roy' Kankanamalage... found dead in August

Ranjith Kankanamalage, a member of the LGBT community, was killed in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park - Credit: Met Police

Homophobic hate crime in Tower Hamlets was up by nearly six per cent in 2021, compared with the previous year.

Data from the Metropolitan Police has revealed the borough is near the top of the league of homophobic hate crime in the city, reporting 171 crimes in 2021.

This comes after Ranjith Kankanamalage, a gay man, was attacked and killed in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park last August.

But not all offences are reported. In October, vandals struck St Matthew’s Church in Bethnal Green and daubed homophobic graffiti on its new posters.

“I was unlocking the church and saw that somebody had written over them in marker,” said Rector Erin Clark.

The church is known in the area as welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community.

“Someone who lives locally was offended by our colourful bunting, because they thought it was the gay agenda,” she said.

Erin, who is originally from Michigan, said: “I did not realise how common a thing hate crime was, and not just homophobic, when I moved here.”

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Tower Hamlets also saw 31 transphobic offences committed in 2021. When compared to Westminster, at the top of the list with 44 hate crimes, and Richmond upon Thames at the bottom with two, Tower Hamlet’s figure appears relatively high.

On a post on social media platform Nextdoor asking if LGBTQ+ people in Tower Hamlets feel safe, a commenter who is listed as from Arnold Circus said: "I’m feeling less and less safe.

"Holding hands with my partner is something we now only do in busy places. I’ve even started to receive abuse walking on my own, which does influence which route I walk home, which roads I’ll choose to take.”

Det Ch Supt Marcus Barnett, policing commander for Tower Hamlets and Hackney, told the press last December: “We are working as closely as we possibly can with the gay community to increase reporting, to have confidence in us that we take it seriously, and when a crime is recorded and investigated as a hate crime, we do everything we possibly can to identify those are responsible, because we know the hurt and the pain that it causes.”