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Gaybashings on the rise in UK

Four homophobic murders in 12 months

London, UK saw its fourth gaybashing fatality of the year Oct 13 when a 62-year-old man died of head injuries sustained in a late September attack in Trafalgar Square, according to The Independent, a British news website.

Ian Baynham died in hospital after doctors took him off life support.

Baynham had just gotten off a bus in the company of a friend when three youths allegedly confronted them and shouted homophobic slurs. He suffered “severe brain damage when he was punched and kicked to the ground,” while his friend, 30, sustained minor injuries, The Independent reports.

Police are looking for three people between the ages of 16 and 20, including two teenage girls, who were seen in the area of the attack and caught on security cameras.

Baynham is the fourth man to be murdered in suspected homophobic attacks in London in the last 12 months, The Independent states.

The other three murder victims — all men — are 79-year-old Edward Highwood who was murdered in his Greenwich home in July; Gerry Edwards, 59, who was stabbed to death in his southeast London apartment in March; and Woolwich resident David Cooper, 28, who was also at home when he was beaten to death in November 2008.

Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson is said to be concerned about the increase in homophobic crimes in the British capital.

Still, Stephenson notes that the police response to homophobic crime is “light years” better than it used to be, and that victims are more likely to report incidents.

Senior police officers have been told that homophobic crimes have risen by almost 14 percent since April, according to The Independent, which notes that there has also been an increase nationally.

The increase in homophobic crimes comes in the midst of an anti-homophobia back-to-school ad campaign aimed at the general public and endorsed by both British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

The campaign’s theme is Some People Are Gay. Get over it.

Spearheaded by the queer lobby group Stonewall, the ads are on 500 billboards and 20 train station screens across England, Scotland and Wales.