Pride Month 2022: Empowering the LGBTQ+ community to take part in Restorative Justice
This is a blog by Development Officer Leah Robinson.
Last week marked the beginning of Pride Month 2022, a month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community at a global level. Why me? wants to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of raising awareness of and increasing access to Restorative Justice (RJ) for LGBTQ+ hate crimes or incidents.
Our current LGBTQ+ project does just this by promoting access to and provision of RJ as a method of addressing LGBTQ+ hate crime committed by young people across London. We are working with LGBTQ+ organisations, Youth Offending Teams and professionals from other statutory and NGO agencies within specific London boroughs, the first of which is Wandsworth.
We have facilitated a restorative circle with young people who attend the LGBTQ+ youth group with whom we are partnering and would like to highlight our key findings in the hope we will be able to further promote the use of and access to RJ for people who have been harmed by LGBTQ+ hate crime or incidents.
A key consideration for someone who may be interested in taking part in RJ having been harmed by an LGBTQ+ hate crime is assurance that they will be not outed through the process. Confidentiality is crucial to the restorative process and is taken very seriously. Therefore, no information would be passed onto the other party without explicit consent and permission. If anonymity is required to ensure someone is comfortable and confident to pursue RJ, this can be discussed with the facilitators.
Often services such as RJ are promoted through physical leaflets. However, in order to access this information there has to be a visible action of picking up the leaflet and either reading it there and then, or holding onto it until a point at which the individual is ready to read through the information. This conscious action may not always be possible or feel comfortable for people in the LGBTQ+ community.
Consequently, we have not only produced leaflets on hate crime for both adults and young people, but also a video talking through our Frequently Asked Questions. We are actively promoting information about RJ and Why me?’s services through QR codes, thereby enabling someone to take a photo of the QR code on their phone to load up the relevant webpage, which they can then read through in their own time once they are in a comfortable environment.
Ensuring that RJ is accessible is one of the Restorative Justice Council’s restorative principles and Why me? continually strive for this through each of our projects as well as our campaigning for greater access to RJ for everyone affected by crime and conflict.
It is widely known that most victims of hate crime do not report the incidents to the police. However, this is not a barrier to engaging in RJ. Restorative interventions can take place outside of the Criminal Justice System, either because the incident which took place was harmful but not criminal or because no charges were made. Therefore, if a member of the LGBTQ+ community experienced some form of harm, criminal or not, they are still able to engage in a restorative process, regardless of whether they feel comfortable reporting the incident to the police.
Why me? strives to ensure that victims of LGBTQ+ hate crime and incidents are aware of Restorative Justice and know how to access it, empowering them to find a way to repair the harm caused and move forward, answering any questions they may have and ensuring they have had their voices heard.
If you are interested in discussing our LGBTQ+ project further, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.