'It's like we're in the stone age' - Homophobic abuse halts LGBT+ parties

The After Party Ipswich

Jay Austin has put a stop to LGBT+ Ipswich nights the After Party - Credit: Rebecca Gilchrist Photography/The After Party Ipswich

Online attacks have prompted the stop of LGBT+ parties in Ipswich.

The After Party organiser Jay Austin, who runs pride music and drag nights at the Music Room near the Waterfront has been the subject of sustained homophobic harassment on social media. 

This has involved a death threat and homophobic slurs being directed at Mr Austin on several different platforms since starting the monthly club nights aimed at Ipswich's LGBT+ community in July. 

Mr Austin said: "I've rocked the boat a little bit and I need to take a step back.

"It's like we're in the stone age. In the start I just told them you make me want to do the nights bigger and better."

The After Party was attended by around 300 people at the Music Room in Ipswich

The After Party in Ipswich - Credit: Rebecca Gilchrist Photography

His boyfriend also encouraged him to take a step back, telling him that the parties are "simply not worth" the threat to him. 

He has also been concerned that his other business, Just Jay Dance, could also be compromised by social media harassment. 

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Mr Austin said: "It's been really negative. 

"It's awful what is happening."

Mr Austin does hope to bring back the After Party events in the New Year.

Hallowqueen will be the last event on Friday, October 29 at 10pm. 

"We will pull out all the stops for this event with the drag queens and a surprise guest," he added "They haven't won and they won't win. We will come back bigger and better."

Hate crimes due to a person's sexual orientation have been climbing in Suffolk. 

The After Party was attended by around 300 people at the Music Room in Ipswich

Kenya Knott, drag queen - Credit: Rebecca Gilchrist Photography

Incidents of this type went from 151 in 2019/20 to 189 to March this year, according to Home Office data released last month

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “Suffolk Constabulary takes every report of hate crime very seriously and investigates incidents thoroughly.

“Hate crime in any form is unacceptable in today’s society and can have a devastating and often life-changing impact on the victim. Finding the perpetrators who commit the crime online brings its own challenges, but we still take it very seriously and are developing skills though our Digital Support Officers to assist in these often complex investigations."

The police also said they work to raise awareness of hate crime, which was leading to more reports and constantly raising awareness with Suffolk police staff on this issue. 

Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care can provide support. For more information visit nsvictimcare.org or telephone 0300 303 3706.

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