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  1. ITV Report

Homophobic crimes recorded on the rise in the Midlands

Gay rights charities have expressed concern at the rise in the number of homophobic crimes. Photo: PA Wire

ITV News Central has learned that reported homophobic hate crimes are on the rise.

Figures from police forces in the Midlands reveal that in the 12 months to June this year, there were 387 reported homophobic crimes compared with 358 over the same period three years ago.

While we have equal marriage in this country, there is still a way to go until society is fully accepting of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

– James Taylor, Stonewall

Leicester Wildecats are a gay football team who play in the Gay Football Supporters Network league.

Darran, one of the players, says homophobia is nowhere near the levels of the 1980s but he still knows of a number of people who have been victims. He told ITV News Central about his uncle's experiences.

David Sharman says he was angry when vandals wrote homophobic abuse in black marker pen all over the windows and sides of his car.

Homophobia is still a huge problem within football.

A number of campaigns have been launched to combat it. Including the #Rainbowlaces drive, where Premier League stars wore rainbow laces in matches to show their support.

Birmingham City's Captain Paul Robinson wears Rainbow Laces in support of Anti-Homophobia during warm up. Credit: PA

Tim Law, Leicester Wildecats, says clubs like his allow gay people to get involved in football.

Some claim the rise is because victims have more confidence in the police.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) believes relations between the forces and the gay community is constantly improving.

The police service has been working hard to ensure the community feels confident to come forward and report incidents.

All such reports will be handled with professionalism and understanding.

– Chief Constable Jane Sawyers, ACPO

It launched a campaign last year to tackle the hate crime.

But in its most recent Gay British Crime Survey, Stonewall found more than three quarters of victims surveyed still did not report their crime to the police.

ONLINE ABUSE:

In the last few years online homophobic abuse has become a major concern.

James Taylor, from Stonewall, says it is making a difficult task in dealing with hate crime that much harder.

In certain cities like London and Birmingham I wouldn't to go round there on my own let alone if I was holding hands with my boyfriend.

– Darran, Leicester Wildecats

The fear of hate crime is affecting where LGBT people go and how they act in public.

Darran says he does not feel comfortable being too affectionate to his boyfriend when in certain places.

According to our survey 82% [of pupils] use derogatory or discriminatory language; especially homophobic language. Using that word 'gay' two or three times a day...

...students told us that teachers only sometimes challenged them on their language.

– Elly Barnes, LGBT adviser, Birmingham City Council

CHANGING ATTITUDES:

One group believes the best way to combat homophobia in the long term is to improve education in schools.

Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools (CHIPs) is a scheme designed to teach children to celebrate difference. 36 schools in Birmingham currently use it.

Books and songs are used to teach primary school children about the importance of accepting everyone regardless of their differences.

CHIPs has been rolled out to primary schools across Birmingham Credit: ITV News Central

Birmingham City Council appointed award winning campaigner Elly Barnes as its LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-gender) adviser for schools two years ago. She has been tasked with introducing the scheme to all schools in the city.

Her survey reveals 82% of pupils use homophobic language regularly.

Some parents have campaigned against the scheme being used in primary schools.

Police had to be called to a meeting where angry parents confronted the headteacher of Welford Primary School in Birmingham, Jamie Barry, over introducing the scheme.

Mother, Tara Powell, spoke to ITV News Central in November while handing a petition against CHIPs to Birmingham City Council.

Elly Barnes says educators are obliged under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure everyone is treated equally and fairly.

According to YouGov, fewer than one in ten primary school teachers are trained to tackle homophobic bullying.

The headteacher for Anderton Park Primary School, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, says the training her school has been given by Elly Barnes has been "vital."

Watch the full report by Joe Lobo below.