Hate Crime – on the increase in times of austerity

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Conference
2012 National LGBT Conference
Date
25 July 2012
Decision

Racist and other violence motivated by hatred towards a particular group is a common problem in Europe and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately with attacks reported on ethnic and religious minorities, asylum seekers, refugees, migrants, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people and other vulnerable groups in recent years hate crime seems to be on the rise.

In March 2010 The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers made a recommendation to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. This included the requirement that member states “should ensure effective, prompt and impartial investigations into alleged cases of crimes and other incidents, where the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim is reasonably suspected to have constituted a motive for the perpetrator.”

The recommendation instructs member states to “take appropriate measures to combat all forms of expression, including in the media and on the internet, which may be reasonably understood as likely to produce the effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination against LGBT persons; such ‘hate speech’ should be prohibited and publicly disavowed whenever it occurs”. Unfortunately the reality is that hate crimes against LGBT people seem to be escalating and due process ignored.

In 2011, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) brought 15,284 hate crime prosecutions, which included cases where people were apparently targeted based on sexual orientation or disability, or for being transsexual or transgender. And a record number of people were prosecuted for racially and religiously-motivated hate crimes in England and Wales.

We welcome the first prosecution of its kind since a law against stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation came into force in 2010. Three men in Derby were found guilty of a gay hate crime after handing out leaflets calling for homosexual people to be executed and imprisoned.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said: “All crime is unacceptable but offences that are driven by hostility or hatred based on personal characteristics are particularly damaging to any civilised society.”

Hate crimes are any crimes that are targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice towards that person’s:

1) Disability;

2) Race or ethnicity;

3) Religion or belief;

4) Sexual orientation;

5) Transgender identity.

A victim does not have to be a member of the group at which the hostility is targeted and hate crime can be committed against a person or their property.

Despite action plans and rhetoric from the government about tackling hate crime, the reality is that with police forces making massive cuts to staffing and many forces losing specialist liaison officers, hate crime may go unchallenged.

Conference instructs the National LGBT Committee to:

A) Produce guidance on how Regions and Branches can support members who find themselves the target of hate crimes;

B) Encourage self organised committees to raise awareness of the hidden costs of hate crime;

C) To continue sending messages of solidarity to our comrades subjected to Hate Crimes on the global arena.