Inclusive community hub in Birmingham vandalised with homophobic graffiti during LGBT History Month
An LGBTQ+ community hub in the West Midlands has been shockingly vandalised as the UK marks LGBT History Month.
Staff at the Birmingham LGBT centre – a leading charity advocating for and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Birmingham and neighbouring authorities – were shocked to discover an offensive and vulgar message engraved onto their front door on Monday.
The homophobic profanity, which cannot be cleaned off, was etched into the entrance of the organisation’s premises, shocking both staff and visitors to the building in Holloway Circus in the city centre.
The disturbing graffiti, displaying the words “Dirty B*****ds”, has been covered up until the centre can arrange a permanent removal solution.
Management at the centre have reported the incident to West Midlands Police who they hope will scour local CCTV footage in a bid to catch the culprits behind the hate crime.
“People felt upset at the vandalism and angry at the damage to the LGBT centre we had our windows put through twice in lockdown,” said Steph Keeble, director of Birmingham LGBT.
“I feel really cross that this has happened again we have worked hard to make sure the community have a safe space and this level of violation and vandalism is not acceptable , it is clearly a hate crime and clearly motivated by hate And I don’t think its okay that staff or service users should be greeted with that when they arrive at the building.
“It’s also an additional expense to fix it that we don’t need as a small charity. I have told the staff to cover it with a Rainbow flag until we can get it fixed so we can reclaim our Pride in our centre,” she told I Am Birmingham.
In a public post following the incident, centre staff urged anyone with information to come forward and reported the incident to the police.
“The police have been out and they will be investigating,” confirmed Keeble.
The vandalism is the latest in a series of homophobic attacks which have rocked the city in recent years.
Last October, a mass protest and vigil was called in the city’s Gay Village after several violent physical and abusive verbal attacks were reported on LGBTQ+ individuals along Hurst Street in Southside.
Following concerned calls from community and business leaders in the area, the police presence was ramped up and CCTV improved. However, despite the security measures, experiences of homophobia on city streets haven’t completely subsided.
“I think there has been an increase in homophobic, biphobia and transphobic hate crime over the last few years,” added Keeble.
“Birmingham LGBT as an organisation supporting LGBTQ+ people have experienced three incidents of criminal damage. Our windows were broken twice during lockdown when no other business in the area were targeted, and a number of incidents of malicious communication in the last couple of years.”
Keeble said the timing of the incident was testament to why the community needs to remain “vigilant”.
“The fact that this has happened in LGBT history month says to me that while there has been a great deal of progress over the years, there is still a long way to go. This tells me that as a community that has fought for our right to live, to love, to exist; we still need to be vigilant in the face of adversity and hate.”
LGBT History Month aims to celebrate the past, present and future of LGBTQ+ rights and achievements. Held every February across the UK, the awareness month was founded in 2004 by Schools OUT co-chairs, Paul Patrick & Professor Emeritus Sue Sanders, and first celebrated in February 2005.
“My message to the LGBTQ community in Birmingham this LGBT History month is stay strong , stay safe and be proud. The LGBT centre will continue to open and serve our community and we wish you all a safe and fun LGBT History Month.”
Salman Mirza, from campaign group Brum Against Hate which organised recent solidarity protests said:
“It is now LGBT History Month and we see this hate vandalism as another example of why more people need to be, as they say, woke and less people need to be hateful.”