Members of the LGBTQ+ and ally communities marked National Hate Crime Awareness week with a peace walk through Tower Hamlets on Friday.
The walk was organised to stand up against all kinds of hate crimes, particularly homophobic and racist attacks in the area.
Starting from the Altab Ali Park on Adler Street, organiser Lauren Steele led the group of more than fifty participants past six places that had been the scene of past racist and homophobic attacks – among them, the site of the 1999 Brick Lane nail bombing.
“Hate Crimes have been increasing and we need to challenge that, especially in light of the recent suspected homophobic murder [of Ranjith Kankanamalage] that happened in Tower Hamlets,” Steele said.
Ranjith, a 50-year-old gay man, was found dead with a head injury in Tower Hamlets Cemetery on August 16 this year.
The peace walk ended at Saint John’s Church in Bethnal Green, where Mark Healey from the 17-24-30 NationalHCAW and Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs, delivered speeches.
“In 2009, a gay man called Ian Baynham was kicked to death at Trafalgar Square, and we organised the first vigil against hate crimes in London for him. We got a turnout of ten thousand people, and that’s when we realised we have started a movement and we have been continuing that ever since,” Healey said.
Figures by the police show that hate crimes recorded in England and Wales have doubled in the last five years. Since the start of the pandemic, racist attacks have gone up by 12% and homophobic attacks by 7%.
“From the policing perspective, we want the people to feel safe and be able to report a hate crime. We have zero tolerance against such attacks,” said Chief Inspector Lucky Singh, who also spoke at the event.
Reporter: Riddhi Kachhela