BirminghamLive/Birmingham Mail

#HandsNotHate - LGBT community

BirminghamLive stood alongside members of the city's LGBT community amid a rising tide of violence. There were four high-profile attacks in quick succession - the last of which was a man assaulted for holding hands with his partner - hence the name #HandsNotHate. A campaign was launched, run by community reporter Nathan Clarke, supported by BirminghamLive editor Graeme Brown, to say enough is enough - and love is love. Nathan had started making contacts within the community, leading our coverage on this issue, but kicked into gear putting himself right at the heart of the issue. He amplified the issue with a series of hard-hitting case studies, including gay men who became trapped in their homes for fear of violence, men afraid to tell their families who they really were and investigating the long term impact of hate crimes by those who had fallen victim. This was a multimedia campaign, where BirminghamLive encouraged readers to participate through comments and a social media campaign where local people shared photographs of themselves holding hands with the hashtag. Nathan also played a part in coordinating and amplifying public events - here is a Facebook Live broadcast from one which captures the moment In a poignant moment victim John Paul Kesseler embraces with David Brooks, who he bravely stepped in to save from an attack just weeks earlier. https://www.facebook.com/birmingham.live/videos/855418278458740 The coverage contributed to major change in Birmingham's Gay village with Birmingham City Council spening nearly £1m upgrading the network or CCTV cameras in the area and installing four more. While the number of homophobic attacks has dropped significantly over the past year, we at BirminghamLive recognise there is still work to be done. Our reporter Nathan has continued to shine a light on homphobic hate crime as and when it happens - keeping this important issue in the news agenda. In Nathan we know we have a reporter who will stand alongside the LGBTQ+ community in their continued fight for equality. Birmingham Pride director Lawrence Barton said: "At a difficult time, BirminghamLive was a genuine cheerleader for our community - not just voicing our fears but being a force for change. They did more than just report on the problem, they wanted to be part of the solution. "When it really mattered, when members of our community were being attacked just for holding hands, BirminghamLive stood in solidarity with us. And while we’ve got a long way to go until true LGBTQ+ equality, we trust BirminghamLive to work with us towards that goal.” Attack victim John Paul Kesseler said: "When minority groups find themselves under attack, the actions of allies become vital. #HandsNotHate gave people the opportunity to support the LGBTQ community, and show defiance to those who would harm us, spreading hope and love. "The campaign resulted in a groundswell of support for the community, and helped to ensure more police patrols, brighter lighting, and new CCTV, all of which are having a positive impact on the safety of LGBTQ people."