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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 1, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 27
Brexit vote sparks anti-Gay, anti-immigrant hate
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Brexit vote sparks anti-Gay, anti-immigrant hate

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Hate crimes have spiked in Britain in the wake of the country's vote to leave the European Union (EU). The LGBT and East European immigrant communities appear to be the main targets of the outburst.

According to the police website True Vision, the number of reported hate crimes is up 57% from the Brexit referendum on June 23 through June 26.

Late at night on June 26, for example, a group marched up Drury Lane in the Covent Garden theater district of London, singing an anti-Gay, anti-immigrant song.

'Rule Britannia!

'Britannia rules the waves!

'First we'll get the Poles out, then the gays!' the song went.

'I was in bed just drifting off to sleep when I heard them,' Colin Appleby, a Gay resident of the neighborhood told BBC News.

'There had been football chants all day long from the direction of the pubs so I didn't really pay much attention until the words became clearer.

'This is Drury Lane in Covent Garden, London; it's the home two theatres, a plethora of restaurants and bars, and it is in liberal, tolerant London.

'To those who voted Leave but didn't have the balls to stand up and counter the racism underpinning that campaign, I say be careful what you wish for.'

For many on the Leave side, and especially for followers of the right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the vote was a rejection of the EU's open-borders agreement allowing free travel and settlement among all countries in the union.

In some parts of Britain, plastic-laminated cards reading 'No more Polish vermin' were posted in public places or placed in mailboxes belonging to Polish immigrant families. In the Hammersmith district of West London, anti-immigrant graffiti appeared on the Polish community center.

'It was very unpleasant,' community center president Joanna Mludzinska told BBC News. 'We removed the graffiti immediately, but people have been very, very shocked by it.

'We are an institution so, it doesn't affect us personally, but we have heard about incidents of people being targeted individually.'

South Asian communities were also targeted. Ali Ahmad, the son of a steelworker, said he was told 'We voted leave - when are you going to?'

Shazia Awan, a Conservative Party activist, said she had been sent several hate messages over Twitter telling her 'go back to your own country.' Awan was born in South Wales.

'The leaders of the Brexit campaign have engendered an atmosphere where some people think it is acceptable for racism and xenophobia,' former Labor Party Deputy Leader Harriet Harmon said.

Outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron promised Parliament that the government would 'not stand for' hate crimes.

'In the past few days, we have seen despicable graffiti smeared on a Polish community center and heard verbal abuse shouted at individuals who are members of ethnic minorities,' Cameron said.

'Let's remember that these people have come here and made a wonderful contribution to our country.

'We will not stand for hate crimes or these kind of attacks; they must be stamped out.'

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