London PD Slammed for 'Victim Blaming' in Wake of Suspected Hate Killing

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday September 2, 2021

London's police are being slammed as blaming the victim with their safety advice for LGTBQ+ people following the Aug. 16 murder of a gay man — a crime thought to be motivated by homophobic hate.

"Gay people have been urged by the Metropolitan Police to avoid 'dimly lit areas' and 'listening to loud music' following a suspected homophobic murder" that took place in an East London park, UK newspaper The Telegraph advised.

The Telegraph recounted that the victim, 50-year-old Ranjith "Roy" Kankanamalege, "was found dead on August 16 in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, where a crime scene is still in place". Reports noted that the victim had suffered severe head trauma, and relayed that the autopsy identified his cause of death as "blunt force trauma" — in other words, he was struck fatally, though reports did not offer specifics.

The police have arrested a suspect, identified only as "a 36-year-old man," who is now free on bail. The police are investigating the killing "as a homophobic hate crime."

But some feel that the Metropolitan Police's handling of the case smacks of victim blaming, the Evening Standard noted.

"Reaction to the press statement on Twitter accused the force of 'victim-blaming' and urged them to prioritize stopping people from committing homophobic attacks in the first place," the Evening Standard reported.

The critics included Conservative Assembly Member Nicholas Rogers, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, who tweeted: "The police should focus on their actual job: making *all* our city's streets safe for gay people. We'll decide the volume of our music, thanks."

Other Twitter users spoke up in agreement:

Much as in the U.S., anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in the UK have soared in recent years. Equality organization Stonewall shared a report that detailed shocking statistics and noted that many victims, especially young LGBTQ+ people, don't even report bias attacks.

The critique of the Metropolitan Police's handling of the situation follows previous skepticism around a plan to paint London police cars in rainbow colors to reassure the LGBTQ+ community.

The Metropolitan Police made a point of assuring the public that they are taking the crime seriously, the Evening Standard recounted. Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett denounced the "horrific murder," saying he wished to "reassure that community that my officers and specialist detectives are working tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice."

The police announced that "that they were working with LGBTQ charities in order to 'encourage members of the community to stay safe', and appealed for any information from anybody who has seen suspicious behavior in the area," the Telegraph reported.

Meantime, the police have stepped up patrols in the vicinity of Kankanamalege's killing, reports said.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.