Malachai O'Hara

Green Party representative Malachai O’Hara targeted with homophobic harassment

Thursday November 9 2017

 

A Green Party NI representative has urged victims of hate crime to report incidents to the police after he was targeted with homophobic harassment earlier this week.

North Belfast Green Party representative Malachai O’Hara was verbally abused on his way to work on Wednesday morning.

Arts manager Malachai, who stood in the Belfast North constituency in the 2017 General Election, 2017 Assembly Election and 2016 Assembly Election said: “As I was heading to work, I was the victim of homophobic harassment. This was at the junction of Peter’s Hill and North Street.

“A young fella aged 18-20 in the back seat of a car rolled down his window to tell me I had dropped something.

“At first I thought this was pleasant and courteous and I checked my coat and bag and pockets, but didn’t seem to have misplaced something.  A woman, I presume his mother, rolled down the window to also inform me I had dropped something.

“After I realised that nothing of importance was missing, I dismissed it and thanked them and proceeded to cross at the lights in front of their car. The young man then shouted out the window that I had dropped my ‘Gay Card’.

“I immediately retraced my steps to ask him what he meant by this. He wound his window up to avoid my challenge. I challenged his mother, who began to apologise for his behaviour, while he mouthed in the back of the car.

“As the lights changed and they drove off, he wound the window down to threaten to knock my balls in.”

Malachai said he has received death threats in the past and this incident was water off a duck’s back, but insisted it is vital that every incident of hate crime be reported to police.

“I have been an out LGBTQ activist for over a decade.  I managed health services at Ireland’s largest LGBTQ charity and I know the damage that casual and unchallenged homophobia causes. I was not letting this go,” he said.

Malachai has reported the threat to the LGBTQ Advocate, based at The Rainbow Project, which supports victims of homophobic or transphobic crime.

“I am awaiting an appointment with police to see if there is anything that can be done.

“Unfortunately, I was not quick enough to get the car registration, but luckily there is CCTV at this junction and we may be able to get the registration and follow up.”

Malachai said he wanted to encourage any member of the public who experiences similar issues to report and seek support.

“I have received death threats before – I have experienced street harassment and threats of violence. This incident was water off a duck’s back in terms of my experiences as an out LGBTQ activist,” he said.

“But my experience also meant I knew the importance of reporting these incidents.

“Too many LGBTQ people shrug off casual homophobia and transphobia because they don’t deem it important enough or they are not convinced anything will be done.

“It’s hugely important that every incident and crime is reported. It allows police and politicians to understand the true picture of everyday harassment experienced by LGBTQ people.

“Whether we have a returned Assembly or not in the near future, it is time to review and update our hate crime legislation to make sure it is fit for purpose,” Malachai said.

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

In the twelve months to 30 June 2017 the PSNI recorded 264 incidents where there was a homophobic motivation.

Of these 264 incidents, there were 124 which did not contain a crime (ie, non-notifiable offences or incidents where the circumstances did not amount to an offence being committed).

The remaining 140 incidents contained one or more crimes (amounting to 152 recorded crimes in total).

These included 110 offences of violence against the person and 36 offences of theft and criminal damage.

In the twelve months to 30 June 2017 the PSNI recorded 1,062 incidents where there was a racist motivation.

Of these 1,062 incidents there were 470 which did not contain a crime (ie .non-notifiable offences or incidents where the circumstances did not amount to an offence being committed).

The remaining 592 incidents contained one or more crimes (amounting to 640 recorded crimes in total).

These included 319 offences of violence against the person and 291 offences of theft or criminal damage.

Source

ENDS

Linda Stewart

07594391264

 

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