Figures from three police forces revealed reports of hate crimes directed at LGBTQ+ people have increased more than 50% in the last two years.

The data looked into reports made to the Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucester police forces.

712 incidents were reported in 2019.

In 2021, the number of incidents reported rose to 1109.

Individually, reports went up 38% in Avon and Somerset, 72% in Gloucestershire and 149% in Wiltshire over the two-year period.

Since the start of the pandemic, abuse towards queer people has gotten worse.

Tim Birkbeck is the LGBT lead for Stand Against Racism and Inequality in Bristol.

He told the BBC: “We’re seeing more people coming out as gay or non-binary in celebrity culture, which trickles down into what we see in general society.”

He continued: “But there’s still a stigmatism with that which leads to people having prejudice towards those people, not understanding it, and when they see something they don’t understand they react in a hateful way.”

Birkbeck said he hoped the increase in reports showed queer people felt more comfortable to contact the police when a hate crime occurred.

Incidents against the LGBTQ+ community remain largely unreported.

Local residents said incidents occurred on a regular basis.

Chief Inspector of Avon and Somerset Police, George Headley, stated: “Historically there’s been national recognition of under-reporting of hate crime.”

He continued: “A lot of hard work has gone in between the police, partners and working with communities to try to improve trust and confidence in reporting.”