During August, Pride celebrations erupted around the world as members of the LGBT+ community celebrated their history, culture and diversity and took a stance against discrimination and violence.

In Dorchester, organisers celebrated a “huge turnout” to this year’s Love Parade – despite unfavourable weather, Weymouth Gay Group celebrated its 10th birthday and Weymouth Pride has been given the go-ahead.

But despite a more prominent profile, have things really improving for gay, trans and non-binary people?

Dorset Echo:

CHOOSE LOVE: Mayor David Taylor with members of Weymouth Gay Group at Dorchester Love Parade

In Dorset hate crimes against the LGBT+ community are increasing year on year.

Figures received through a Freedom of Information request show the number of reported hate crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity have almost quadrupled since 2012.

In 2012, Dorset Police received 21 reports of hate crime, but this figures has risen year on year to 27 in 2013, 41 in 2014 and 47 in 2015.

Figures rose to 70 in 2016 and continued to increase into 2017 with 82 hate crimes reported – almost four times the number in 2012.

In the first four months of this year 26 hate crimes were reported.

The majority (61 per cent) of the crimes were committed as violence against the victim while 14 per cent of hate crimes involved criminal damage, robbery, theft or burglary.


Lydia*, a transgender woman who lives in Weymouth, said she had seen a change in attitude in the past two years since the vote for Brexit and Donald Trump’s rise to power.

“It’s all harassment and intimidation. It’s been noticeable to me that things have got worse. It’s proved to bigots that it is OK to be a bigot. They’ve been given a free pass. If the president of the USA can be derogatory to trans people so can they,” she said.

Lydia says she had also suffered from what she called ‘curiosity attacks’ where individuals would sexually assault her or grab her chest to “see what’s there”.

Since 2012, 11 hate crimes involving sexual offences have been reported to Dorset Police – however no one was charged in any of the cases.

In fact, out of the the 288 hate crimes against LGBT+ people reported between January 2012 and April 2018, only 20 reports – just seven per cent – resulted in someone being charged with an offence.

Dorset Echo:

However, these figures only represent crimes reported to police or deemed serious enough to report but Lydia says she suffers daily abuse and snubs from people in her community.

She says she was often pointed and laughed at, called ‘tranny’ and asked to show her genitals to people.

“It happens all the time,” she said. “Last week three girls came into a pub I go to regularly. The first sat at the table next to me, her friend looked at me and said ‘I don’t want to sit there, I don’t want to sit next to that.’”

Another day when she declined a homeless person’s request for change he called her a ‘‘***** tranny’.

“When I leave the house, I have got to the point where I plug in my headphones and keep my head down. I have adjusted my way of living in the world to give me a little more safety and block out what people are saying.

“It’s obviously not ideal but if I’m not looking at them or hearing them and have those barriers up I feel safer and able to continue with my life. I’m not trying to blend in – I’m not the most feminine woman but I’m happy this way. I’d just like to be accepted. I don’t want to change your world – I just want to live in it safely,” she said.

Jamie Windust, from Dorchester, identifies as gender non-binary and uses the preferred pronouns they or their.

“I get a lot of staring, a lot of pointing, a lot of laughing – what I would describe as microaggressions. Not out and out violence but detrimental,” they said.

Microaggressions are statements, actions or incidents which indirectly or subtly discriminate against members of a marginalised groups.

“Men in vans love shouting at me – and it isn’t fine. I know it’s not. It’s mainly from straight men, who can be violent, and think they are entitled to give their opinion. I think it’s because I’m fairly obvious. It plays on their masculinity.

Dorset Echo:

Jamie Windust 

“Last night I was walking at about 11pm and split up from my friends to walk home. There was a level of aggression from drunk men. They are afraid of anything that’s feminine which they correspond with weakness – I’m visibly queer so I’m an easy target.

“But I’ve had a few incidents that do cross the line. One incident occurred after I moved to Epsom and it was my first time going into town. I was waiting at the bus stop and a group of men saw me and came over with a bucket of water and threw it at me and ran away.

“I take it with a pinch of salt - they don’t know who I am so their opinion isn’t based on anything. If anything, it’s a judgement on them. It’s difficult because it’s something that is hard to call out or challenge in a legal sense. You become numb to it. You get to a point where you build a thick skin and tell yourself it’s fine but it definitely still chips away at you. It makes people afraid to be visible. But you have to realise that people’s opinion of you has no reflection on you as a person.”

*Names have been changed to protect the person’s identity.


Marianne Storey, CEO of Dorset Mind said most, if not all, LGBT+ people experience microaggressions at some time in their lives which increased the risk of poor mental health.

“Microaggressions have a persistent and accumulative impact upon mood, self-esteem, confidence and life choices and can therefore prevent people from being able to successfully transition throughout life stages that most people take for granted such as education, having relationships or starting a family.”

She added microaggressions reinforced ‘heterosexism’ - discrimination on the assumption that heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation - and therefore reinforced a “continual rejection of the very essence of a LGBT+ person’s identity.”

“Microaggressions experienced by a LGBT+ person over a long period of time can have a debilitating effect due to their accumulative nature.

The biggest factor that increases an LGBT+ person’s vulnerability to developing mental health issues is the chronic and sustained experience of being perceived as an outsider. Alarmingly, this equates to around a third of LGBT+ people that attend our support groups,” she said.

“More explicit aggression, bullying, hate crimes, discrimination and harassment increase the likelihood of any person, but particularly an LGBT+ person, to develop more severe, deeply entrenched mental health issues due to their traumatic nature. Ultimately all aggression and in particular, experience of trauma, can lead to acute stress, PTSD, substance misuse, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, addiction, difficulties in establishing and maintaining relationships, fear of or inability to be sexually or emotionally intimate, social isolation and self-neglect.”


If you identify as LGBT+ and would like to connect with others or access support see below:

  • Weymouth Gay Group celebrates its 10th birthday this year. The group meet for an informal social event every Thursday evening at the Swan pub in St Thomas Street, Weymouth. The group also regularly run a variety of other LGBT+ events in the Weymouth, Dorchester and Dorset area. For more information visit weymouthgaygroup.weebly.com
  • The Dorset LGBT Equality Network works for a homophobia and transphobia free, inclusive Dorset. The network initiates and develops lobbying and educational information campaigns to influence and effect change.Visit www.lgbtdorsetequality.network form more information or contact lgbtdorsetequality@gmail.com or 07811 269 454 for more information.
  • Dorset Mind runs support groups for the LGBT+ community called MindOut. MindOut Weymouth meets every other Friday between 2pm and 4pm at the Adult Education Centre in Dorchester Road. For more information please visit www.dorsetmind.uk or contact Debbie on 07766 281434.
  • Space Youth Project is a Dorset wide group for young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or are questioning. There are groups running in both Weymouth and Dorchester. For more information contact Helen on 07973 405280 or visit spaceyouthproject.co.uk