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Vince Laws organises a candlelit vigil in support of the 'No to Hate Crime' campaign / 18 October 2010

No one should have to suffer physical or verbal abuse for being who they are, regardless of their race, sexuality, faith, disability, whatever. On Saturday 23 October there will be Candlelit Vigils organised by the No To Hate Crime Campaign in Toronto, London, Brighton, and Norwich. The Vigils began as a response to the nail bomb attacks in London some years ago, and are an opportunity for the silent majority to show their support for the vulnerable, and their opposition to the bigots. 

I had every intention of joining the vigil in Norwich, but I’ve been invited to perform poetry in Sheringham, Norfolk, at the launch of the Coast Festival, and so, long story short, I’m organising a vigil of my own.

I’m a member of the newly formed North Norfolk Pride and at a meeting, two school leavers told us about the homophobic bullying they had endured while at school in Sheringham.

The recent review ‘How Fair is Britain’ published by the Equality & Human Rights Commission states that two-thirds of lesbian, gay and transgender secondary students report that they have been victims of often severe bullying (17% of those bullied reported having received death threats).  

At first I worried that no one else would turn up, but as my friend Trudy rightly said, “If it’s just you and me and a candle, so what? It’s still worth it.”

In actual fact the response has been very positive. People have helped decide the best place to hold the vigil, and offered shelter if wet, flyers have been designed, invitations sent out to various networks, and the Chief Executive of North Norfolk District Council, Philip Burton, has agreed to attend and explain the council’s view on Hate Crime.

I’m not suggesting that North Norfolk is a Hate Crime hot spot, far from it. However it has to be much better to be visible, let potential victims know there is support in the area, and let potential bigots know they will not be tolerated.

Vince Laws is organising a Candlelit Vigil Against Hate Crime on Lifeboat Plain in Sheringham on Saturday 23 October, from 7.30pm, with 2 minutes silence at 8pm, to coincide with vigils in Toronto, London, Brighton, and Norwich. Bring a jam jar and a candle and show your support. Meet in Oddfellows Hall if wet.

Keywords: gay and lesbian issues,