We’ve been considering the Julie Burchill article in The Observer with an overwhelming sense of sadness and anger. Every day we work with, and get reports from, trans* people who experience daily harassment and violence for nothing more than being themselves. The people who harass, hate and hurt think it’s OK to do so and articles like the ones last week help create a society that allows it to happen.
We’ve been asked by a number of people about reporting Julie Burchill, and The Observer, to the police, for hate speech. We absolutely understand the hurt and anguish that reading an article such as this causes people, however our advice is that this article is not a criminal offence. There is no legislation outlawing incitement to transphobic hatred (a situation which we abhor, and actively campaign against), and even if there was, it would mirror incitement legalisation that does exist. This legislation places a high threshold on an action before it counts as incitement – and the article would have needed to reach this threshold (for example directly advocating violence). The expectation is that even grossly offensive and hurtful articles would not be outlawed in legislation. You can find more information about laws that cover hate crime here, or download our PDF factsheet
Instead, we’ve supported the complaints to the Press Complaints Commission and The Observer, and we’re pleased that the Observer’s editor has removed the article from the website, and look forward to a more detailed response from the Reader’s Editor http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/14/1.
We continue to stand in solidarity with our friends, our loved ones, our colleagues, our clients and everyone who has the tenacity, humanity, guts and pride to be themselves. We’re here if you need us: 020 7704 2040.