Saints LGBT+ Reports Hate Crime
Last Monday, October 17, an LGBTQ+ St Andrews student was reportedly assaulted after being coerced into a meeting through the app Grindr. The alleged assailant used a fake profile to organise the meet-up at a location in town. The incident, reported by Saints LGBT+, the University’s LGBTQ+ committee, is being considered by the committee as a hate crime.
In Scotland, hate crimes are defined as criminal offences beyond harassment motivated by hostility or prejudice against a protected characteristic of another. The specific characteristics include race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, or disability. Hate crime offences can include assault (both sexual and physical), breach of peace, burgarly, and theft.
It has not been confirmed whether the alleged incident has been reported to the police.
In Saints LGBT’s statement on the alleged crime, they stated, “Even more than usual, please use caution and discretion when meeting up with someone you have met online, especially if it was on an app.
“Recently, more elaborate fake profiles have begun to emerge so don’t trust just photos and videos as proof of identity especially if they are not specific to a situation.
“If something does not seem right, trust your gut and err on the side of safety”, the committee said.
Saints LGBT+ encouraged students to seek support from Report + Support, a system which allows all forms of sexual violence, harrassment, misconduct, or hate crime to be reported, either anonymously or with contact details, to the University. The University will then take the appropriate actions or follow up accordingly.
Sofia Johnson, president of Saints LGBT+, said, “This is frightening news for anyone in the community. This town is small so we need to support each other and keep each other safe.
“If anybody has concerns, requests, or just wishes for general support, please reach out to Saints. If you would prefer a more personal one on one talk, I am also open to messages or emails (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will try my best to help”.
Ms Johnson has also stated that she will be hosting office hours along with the Wellbeing Officer of Saints LGBT+, Elena Ewence, in order to plan for upcoming meeting with the Student Services and the Principal in which “LGBTQ+ safety will be brought up”.
Grindr, the app through which the crime occurred, is a location-based messaging app for LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly gay men. The app allows users to create a profile and, using their GPS position, shows them a selection of other profiles, sorted by proximity to the user.
Apps like Grindr and Tinder have been questioned in recent years for their unsafe practices after several hate crimes were reported across the UK and United States in which the perpetrator lured the victim through the app.
A Grindr spokesperson said, in a statement to the company The Verge, “We are saddened to learn of these reports. Grindr is committed to creating a safe and secure environment to help our community connect and thrive, and any account of sexual abuse or other illegal behavior is troubling to us as well as a clear violation of our terms of service”.
Exactly a year ago, a hate crime against a 15-year-old St Andrews boy was reported to police. The boy was subjected to homophobic abuse on the bus and then attacked by three people on City Road after getting off a bus.
Only a few days later, transphobic graffiti appeared outside of a Boots store on Market Street which read, “trans women are men”. Graffiti of a similar nature was found elsewhere in town.
In response to the incidents, local MP Wendy Chamberlain said: “The character of the town has always been a welcoming one and these disgraceful incidents in no way reflect the views of the vast majority of the local community, or the staff and students at the university.
“It’s unfortunate that a few unpleasant individuals can undermine all the good work that is being done to make people feel safe and welcome in our area.
“Homophobia and transphobia and hate crimes are a serious matter that too many people are forced to put up with on a daily basis and I would encourage anyone who witnesses these types of incidents, or knows the people involved, to report them to the police straight away.”
LGBT Helpline Scotland:
+44 0300 123 2523
Student Services : +44 01334 46 2720
Image: Saints LGBT