Zoteria, the new app, launches to tackle LGBTQ+ hate crime.

LGBTQ+ hate crime Zoteria
Night Pride is a Protest - Protesting against Hate Crime.

The new app, Zoteria, launches to tackle LGBTQ+ hate crime following a rise in reported incidents across the UK.  

Vodafone Foundation, the company’s charitable arm, today unveiled Zoteria, a new app to help the LGBTQ+ community and the wider public to come together and tackle the issue of LGBTQ+ hate crime*.   

The name Zoteria is inspired by Soteria, the Greek goddess or spirit of safety and deliverance from harm.

Zoteria enables people to report hate crime incidents, either against themselves or on behalf of someone else, and access support from LGBTQ+ charities. It also aims to improve the reporting of trends relating to LGBTQ+ hate crime and so build a more accurate picture of the issue across the UK. Zoteria is free to download via app stores now. 

The launch of Zoteria follows record rises in LGBTQ+ hate crime reports in England and Wales, with recent government statistics showing a 41% increase in homophobic and biphobic hate incidents – and a 56% increase in transphobic hate incidents – compared to last year.

The app, developed by Vodafone Foundation in partnership with UK LGBTQ+ anti-abuse and rights charities Galop and Stonewall, comes as new research** from Vodafone found that over two-thirds (68%) of LGBTQ+ respondents had been victims of hate crime in the last year, and an attack had physically injured more than a quarter (27%). 

But three-quarters (75%) of respondents say they haven’t reported the incident because they felt it was too minor (53%) or didn’t trust the authorities to take it seriously or do anything about it (42%). An overwhelming 87% of LGBTQ+ said they would welcome a simple method, like an app, to access help and advice and report such incidents.

Vodafone employee Marta Lima, 30, from London, who won a global competition to develop the app, said: “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I’m very aware of how frequent hate crime incidents are. It happened to me, and every person I know from the community has a story. Often people don’t know their rights, don’t think they will be taken seriously, nor that reporting an incident matters. But data is key to driving change. We wanted to create an app that encourages the community and its allies to step up, come together and be empowered by making it easy to flag incidents both as a victim or as a bystander.”

Zoteria enables anyone to report hate incidents directly to LGBTQ+ support charities in a confidential way, either for themselves or on behalf of someone else. For app users who would like support, Galop, the UK’s LGBT+ anti-abuse charity, will reach out and provide a safe space to talk.

As well as helping anyone impacted to get the support they need, Zoteria also aims to improve the data gathered on LGBTQ+ hate incidents. Anonymised regional and city data will be available to local authorities to understand the issue within their region better. Data will also help highlight the problems faced by LGBTQ+ people from ethnic minorities, with recent UK studies suggesting specific barriers to support and wellbeing from the impact of racism and homophobia.

The app also provides access to other vital support services, including LGBTQ+ advice, mental health and sexual health services, and information on local LGBTQ+ events to help people stay connected with their local communities.  

The new study from Vodafone showed that people outside the LBGTQ+ community have limited knowledge of the problem or how to deal with it. Almost half (49%) of those surveyed were not sure what constituted an LGBTQ+ hate crime and more than a quarter (28%) admitted they wouldn’t know what to do if they did witness such an incident. More than half (53%) of respondents who had seen an LGBTQ+ hate crime said they hadn’t reported it.

Andrew Dunnett, Director of the Vodafone Foundation, said: “I’m proud Vodafone Foundation has supported the development of Zoteria, working with our LGBTQ+ employee networks and leading partners to create an app that will help anyone impacted by hate crime get the help and support they need. We want everyone in society and our workplace to be themselves and belong. By working together, we can tackle LGBTQ+ hate incidents and make our communities safer. Please download the app now, and if you see or experience LGBTQ+ hate crime, flag it with Zoteria.”   

Leni Morris (she/her), CEO of Galop, said: “Galop has been supporting LGBTQ+ victims of hate crime for decades, and we know that the official figures only represent a small proportion of what our community experiences daily in the UK. Zoteria will link LGBTQ+ people who need support directly to our services, which are run by LGBTQ+ people. This app, alongside our other work, including the National LGBT+ Hate Crime Helpline, helps get us a bit closer to a future where all LGBTQ+ people in the UK have access to specialist support in the wake of abuse and violence.”

Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive at Stonewall (she/her) said: “Hate crime against LGBTQ+ people is rising sharply in many countries around the world. For years, Stonewall has worked on tackling hate crime by building systems to gather evidence to advocate for change and to support survivors in over 15 countries. Zoteria is a leading example of how corporates can use their technology and networks to advance LGBTQ+ rights, and we are immensely proud to partner with Vodafone and Galop on this innovative app that will take us one step closer to a world where all LGBTQ+ people are safe and free to be ourselves.”

Zoteria is the latest in Vodafone Foundation’s ‘Apps Against Abuse’ portfolio, including Bright Sky, which provides support to those exposed to domestic abuse. Vodafone Foundation has used technology to connect over 1.5 million people affected by domestic abuse to advice, support, and education for over ten years.   

Zoteria is available to download in the UK, for free, on Apple App store and Google Play Store

Zoteria is not linked to the police, nor is it an emergency app. If someone feels in immediate danger, they should call 999.

*A hate incident is defined as any act which may or may not be a crime that the victim or any other person perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards an aspect of a person’s identity. It could include (but is not limited to) verbal abuse, harassment, physical attacks, threats of violence and online abuse.

** An online survey was conducted by independent market research agency Walr among 1,008 adults aged 18+ in the LGBTQ+ community and 2,002 adults aged 18+ not in the LGBTQ+ community. The research fieldwork took place between 27th – 29th September 2022. Walr is a member organisation of the Market Research Society and abides by all codes of practice. 

Vodafone, alongside Galop and Stonewall, will monitor how the app is being used to provide continuous improvements that benefit both users and the wider community. 

Should anonymised data ever be analysed to look at trends of anti-LGBT+ hate crime in the UK, it will be subject to rigorous scrutiny. Only then will anonymised regional and city data be available to local authorities so they can better understand the issue within their region. 

Galop has many years of experience working with LGBT+ victims and abuse survivors. Their service involves working closely with LGBT+ people who request support, and attempts to use it fraudulently are rare.

Earlier this year, it was announced by Ilga in its 2022 Rule of Law report that the UK has dropped in European ranking for LGBTQ+ rights for the third year running.

 

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