But there is a way to stop it...
First publish in Gay Star News - 11/01/17
Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse on Twitter is on the rise and Twitter is not doing enough to address it.
And if ever there were a time when we needed to act together, it is now.
The price we pay for hateYou may think that equal marriage and anti-discrimination legislation mean that everything in the garden is fine and dandy. But here are some disturbing facts about the LGBTI community in the UK (from a 2016 report by LGBT Foundation and NSPCC):
A taxi driver abused me in the streetThankfully, UK hate crime legislation makes it illegal to abuse or incite violence against a gay, bi or trans person face-to-face, in print or in the broadcast media.
Recently a licensed London black cab driver subjected me to a totally unprovoked verbal assault. I did not take kindly to having the words ‘fucking poof’ shouted at me in the street.
I do not believe that people should be able to get away with such behavior, and because this was a ‘real world’ event, the police could take up the case. A court date is imminent and if found guilty, the cab driver will be punished.
Twitter allowing abuse to flourishI am therefore disturbed to see so much disgusting, vile and loathsome anti-LGBTI abuse published on Twitter every day. And I’m baffled the multi-billion-dollar tech giant taking absolutely no action at all.
I’ve been subject to it and I have heard from very many other LGBTI people who have faced disgusting abuse too.
Twitter users see spiteful messages all the time. dNarrowwayChurch @narrowwaychurch is still tweeting after 18 months and countless complaints. People made sickening comments in the wake of George Michael’s death. And former darts champion Eric Bristow equated pedophilia with being a ‘poof’ – Sky sacked him, Twitter did nothing.
If the mainstream media published a fraction of what we see on Twitter, we’d think the world had gone mad. And yet, because it is on Twitter, many people accept it as just the way things are.
We can stop itBut it must stop now. This is not about free speech or freedom of the press. People deserve the right to pursue their lives without being bullied, vilified and abused. These people are often vulnerable. And let’s remember how much of our time we spend on the likes of Twitter in our ‘always-on digital age’.
This is why I have launched a Thunderclap campaign. At 4pm GMT on 1 February, if at least 1,000 people sign up to pledge support, supporters of my campaign will each send a simultaneous automated message across Twitter and Facebook.
This, potentially, results in a reach of several million. That’s a groundswell of opinion that even a tech behemoth like Twitter will find hard to ignore.
I’m proud to have the backing of organisations and individuals including Stonewall, UK Black Pride, Pride London, Diversity Role Models, Womens’ Equality Party and their leader Sophie Walker, human rights activist Peter Tatchell, Paralympian Claire Harvey, Lord Cashman of Limehouse and MP Wes Streeting.
Gay Star News is partnering on this effort too. GSN’s backing for no2LGBTHate.com is a fantastic example of how the LGBTI community pulls together when it needs to.
I urge everyone of like mind to visit no2LGBTHate.com to find out more and to become a part of it. Together, we can make a difference.
Linda Riley is an equalities campaigner, founder of the Global Diversity Company and co-publisher of DIVA magazine.