Homophobic attack at Queen’s Park shows that work must be done to make Chesterfield safe for its LGBTQ+ community

Unfortunately, we had to report on Monday, May 23 that Derbyshire Police were investigating a hate crime at Queen’s Park.

Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 3:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 3:10 pm
The incident took place near the park’s bandstand.
The incident took place near the park’s bandstand.

An individual had been attacked and spat at by a gang of teenagers, who were alleged to have made homophobic comments during their assault.

It is heartbreaking to think that somebody in our town has suffered in this way because of their sexuality. I can only hope they realise that these attackers represent a small, narrow-minded minority, and that most will be rightfully disgusted by this news.

Of course, it is not enough to simply reassure LGBTQ+ people by saying that those who target them are the few, rather than the many. For as long as there are those out there willing to abuse them for who they choose to love, then there will be people scared to walk through the streets and parks of Chesterfield – something that cannot be right.

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After a previous, unrelated assault at Queen’s Park earlier in the year, Derbyshire Police said they would be increasing patrols in the area. Given the nature of this incident, one would hope that they will commit to doing the same now – a greater number of high-visibility patrols across the town will no doubt help boost the confidence of those who may be scared of facing similar attacks.

While these reactive measures are important, more needs to be done to tackle anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment at its very roots. I am sure education and awareness on these matters has come on leaps and bounds since I was last in school, but evidently, it is crucial that we work to instil in children an acceptance of people’s differences – so that they do not grow up into the kinds of young adults that launch such assaults.

When Jake Daniels, a professional footballer at Blackpool FC, came out as gay last week, there was a critical undercurrent amidst the praise he received from many. Cynics were quick to question why this was newsworthy, or indeed necessary – the answer to this lies in these kinds of incidents.

Jake’s decision was groundbreaking because, as was shown in our own town, prejudice against people based on their sexuality persists. His coming out would be unremarkable if he was accepted by all for who he is – but this will sadly not be the case.

The bravery of people like Jake will help to foster a world in which these kinds of repugnant incidents are a thing of the past. Until then, at the very least, I hope we do not have to continue to report on such abhorrent attacks in Chesterfield.