The Northampton Borough Council International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHo) on Thursday was an uplifting experience. To see over the years the growth of the event can’t help but give a sense of optimism for the future.
One of the highlights of the event was hearing Ben Cohen’s personal video message for the event. It was the first time that I had heard him speak about his motivation emerging from the murder of his father and his drive to take action to achieve something positive about the experience.
Northampton Borough Council has come quite some way over the past couple of years. In 2010 I suggested that they look at Hate Crime as a piece of work for their scrutiny committee. Part of my reasoning for doing so was to draw attention to culture of the Borough Council in dealing with hate crime.
This culture was no more clearly demonstrated by the failure of the Borough Council to deals with hate incidents reported by residents who had the misfortune to live near Gavin Kerr, one of the individuals that was convicted of killing Peter Cohen, when he lived on Kings Heath up till two years ago. People were obviously unwilling to report the incidents and so the homophobia and the racism continued. The Council at the time refused to deal with the issue and did not bring the case for discussion at multi-agency groups designed to review such cases. Gavin has now moved and I’m not sure what he is doing now but for the black families and young gay men that had to endure his offense verbal diatribe on a regular basis, life is better.
Northampton Borough Council has bravely included taking more action on Hate crime as an equality objective that it commits to make progress on. It is indeed brave but it will have to be so much more than making noise. It will be getting to the bottom of hard issues and really making a difference rather than working hard and making noise.