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RCN members demand action to ensure nurses can better support victims of LGBTQ+ hate crime

Press Release 16/05/2023

Nursing can play a vital role in supporting their LGBTQ+ patients who are victims of hate crimes so need greater access to resource and training, according to members speaking at RCN Congress in Brighton.

Members gave moving accounts about their experiences treating the victims of hate crimes and the ongoing challenges their LGBTQ+ patients and colleagues face. One member spoke about the rampant homophobia and abuse faced by their patient when they were discharged to a care home. Another spoke about how a patient repeatedly refused to be treated by a transitioning colleague. Many speakers called on members to call out unacceptable behaviour from their patients or their own colleagues.

During the discussion, members voted to make the debate a resolution, and passed overwhelmingly a call upon RCN council to take action to ensure nurses can better support the victims of LGBTQ+ hate crime. The resolution took place ahead of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia, which is tomorrow (Wednesday).

With hate crimes towards the community rising dramatically in the last decade, members believe better training would enable nurses to correctly spot patients who may been the victims of a hate crime, before referring people to appropriate agencies to safeguard and protect them.

Currently, nursing students receive safeguarding training. The RCN believes this training should be extended to also focus specifically on hate crimes and its impact on patients. The RCN is concerned that a lack of training is leaving staff unsure how to respond or report hate crimes against their patients and which services they need to be signposted to. 

The latest reporting from the Home Office shows that there are now over 500 cases of hate crimes based on sexual orientation in England and Wales every week. Of the 26,152 recorded hate crimes in the last year, just under half were categorised as violent offences, including ‘with injury’ and ‘stalking and harassment’. Similarly, over half of the 4,355 reported hate crimes based on transgender identity were described as violent offences. These figures have dramatically increased since the data was first collected in 2011-12.

The RCN is calling for more training before and after nurses graduate and for staff in nursing roles, to build their skills, knowledge, and confidence on how to recognise, support, report, and signpost victims of hate crimes. For members of nursing teams, continued professional development is vital to ensure that all team members understand the implications and harm that being a victim of a hate crime causes to patients.

The College will write to nursing heads at universities across England and Wales in the coming weeks to encourage them to teach students how to recognise and signpost hate crimes as part of their curriculum. The union sees this as vital to fulfil the requirement of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Future Nurse Standards (2018).

The RCN also emphasises nursing staff should work collaboratively with other agencies - alongside the police, charities, and other public sector workers.

RCN Diversity and Equalities Co-ordinator, Bruno Daniel, said:

“The increase in LGBTQ+ hate crimes is deeply alarming but sadly is the reality faced by the UK’s LGBTQ+ community.

“The victims of homophobic or transphobic hate crimes are loved ones, colleagues, families, friends, and neighbours who may disclose their lived experiences to members of the nursing team when they are seeking care and treatment. 

“Nursing staff play a vital role - to treat those victims with compassion, ensure they can access vital specialist services and support, and support them to achieve justice. Nursing teams must have the skills and knowledge they need to provide the very best care and support.”


Notes to Editors

The definition of a hate crime listed is the common definition agreed in 2007 by the police, Crown Prosecution Service, Prison Service (now the National Offender Management Service) and other agencies that make up the criminal justice system. A hate crime is defined as ‘any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic.’

According to the Home Office’s latest official statistics for England and Wales, in 2021-22 there were 26,152 sexual lorientation hate crimes and 4,355 transgender hate crimes, increasing from 18,596 and 2,799 from the previous year. These are drastic increases from when the data was first collected in 2011-12, when there were 4,345 sexual orientation hate crimes and 313 transgender hate crimes reported.

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