Violence against the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) community has only recently emerged more fully as a social problem.1 This chapter will discuss the importance of understanding homophobic violence as a complex social problem that impacts on gay men, lesbians and the LGB community generally in distinctive ways. Furthermore, the appropriateness of the legal response to homophobic violence, particularly the use of hate-crime legislation, will be questioned. It will be argued here that changes in the criminal law, while vital, will not be sufficient on their own to tackle the continuing violence directed towards the LGB community. The general use of the phrase ‘homophobic violence’ rather than ‘homophobichate crime’ in this chapter is deliberate. While the concept of ‘hate crime’ has proved useful in mobilising collective policy responses to crimes and actions based on prejudice or bigotry, ‘hate crime’ also effects a conceptual and theoretical closure that restricts the scope of any inquiry into homophobic violence and elides the role of the law itself in sustaining a hostile environment for the LGB community.2The nail-bombing of the London gay pub, the Admiral Duncan, in 1999, the brutal murder of Jody Dobrowski in 2005 and the shocking shootings at the BarNoar gay youth club in Tel Aviv in 2009 are all examples of homophobic violence sensational enough to penetrate the news agenda of the day. However, the coverage of such crimes fosters a public understanding that homophobic violence is characterised by acts of extreme, physical violence perpetrated by strangers.3Although any coverage of homophobic violence is valuable in raising awareness, research suggests that this value is undermined by the cultivation of a ‘stranger danger’ discourse and its potentially negative effects. A focus on ‘stranger danger’ can disguise the true extent and nature of thebehaviour it seeks to address. By focusing on extreme and isolated acts of physical homophobic violence, ‘the logic of the stranger obscures our ability to understand the ordinariness of hate crime’.4 Members of the LGB community undoubtedly

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