Cllr Jack Hopkins (left) and Mark Healey, Lambeth Council’s Hate Crime Coordinator, at the replanting of the IDAHO tree, with Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey.
The Vauxhall IDAHO Tree, marking Lambeth’s opposition to homophobic hate crimes around the world, has been replanted in Lambeth.
Speakers including Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey warned of the discrimination still faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in countries like Russia, Uganda and Nigeria as they planted Chinese privet on a site at the Albert Embankment.
The tree replaced an apple blossom which was planted several years ago to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), but has since died. The original tree commemorated victims of hate crimes, including David Morley (known affectionately as “Sinders” within the LGBT community) who was killed on the South Bank in 2004, and Jody Dobrowski who was killed on Clapham Common in 2005.
Vauxhall One and Vauxhall Gay Business Forum asked for the tree to be replaced during LGBT History month this month [February], and to show solidarity with Russian colleagues during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. They also wanted to draw attention to the persecution of LGBT communities taking place in Nigeria and Uganda.
Ms Hoey, who joined Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities, to plant the tree, said: “All of us who live in Vauxhall want to live in a society, in a neighbourhood, in a community where we all can be free from fear.
“This tree is a symbol of why it matters that we don’t condone, in any way or any shape or form, homophobia.
“It is particularly sad that this is happening in a week when a major Commonwealth country, Uganda, has just passed a law that is making homosexuality illegal.”
Mark Healey, Lambeth Council’s Hate Crime Coordinator, said almost 100 homophobic incidents had been reported to local police already this year – but the figure was only the “tip of the problem”.
He said: “A recent survey found that only one in six gay people report incidents to the police, so we could be looking at another 500-plus incidents that we are not aware of this year alone. We want to encourage all victims of hate crime to come forward and tell us what they have experienced so we can do something about it.
“We are replanting the tree today to reaffirm our collective commitment to tackling homophobia in Lambeth, to make Lambeth a safe place for all; no place for hate.”
The evergreen Chinese privet was donated by Alistair Johnstone, from Lambeth Parks and Open Spaces after Mark Oakley from the Vauxhall Gay Business Forum and Frances Fraser from Vauxhall One reported that the original tree had died.
Anyone who has experienced hate crime in the borough can report it via the Lambeth Council website hate crime reporting form (http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/forms/report-a-hate-crime-form) or contact Mark Healey, Lambeth’s Hate Crime Coordinator: on 020 7926 2796 or by email at email@example.com.
In an emergency, the Police should always be contacted, on 999.