A Call for Equal Hate Crime Laws
Joint Letter from 75 LGBT Organisations and Allies
Dear Party Leaders,
We, the undersigned organisations call for an end to unequal hate crime legal protections in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We call on political parties to commit to a full review of laws on this issue, as recommended by the Law Commission.
The current two-tier system gives lesser protections to people targeted because they are LGBT or disabled people compared with laws focused on race and faith hate crime. The current outdated laws send a message that some groups are less worthy of protection than others, which undermines the confidence of victims in the law.
Following the Brexit vote we saw a rise in recorded hate crimes, including those against LGBT people. Now is the right time to ensure a proper response before things are allowed to escalate.
We call on political parties to stand against all forms of prejudice by committing to review the outdated hate crime laws in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Such a review was recommended by the Law Commission after being asked by the Westminster government to examine this issue. Its aim should be to bring the various legal remedies into one clear proportionate law that provides equal protection for all victims of hate crime.
One problem with English and Welsh laws is that homophobic, transphobic, biphobic and disability hate crimes have a lower maximum sentence than race and faith hate crime. That means courts can only give a sentence a quarter as long for some types of anti-LGBT and disability hate crime compared with their race or faith equivalents.
It also means that it is often not properly documented on the criminal records of those found guilty of anti-LGBT and disability hate crimes. That prevents courts, prisons and probation services from identifying and challenging the prejudice driving repeat offender’s behaviour.
Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland transphobic violence is excluded from hate crime laws altogether.
The Conservative, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties committed themselves to reforming hate crime laws in their 2015 manifestos. We call on parties to commit to equalizing legal protections for all communities that face hate crime within their new manifestos.
We welcome the current review of Scottish hate crime laws and call for similar action by the Westminster Government, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive.
Signatory LGBT organisations:
Dr Ali. Hanbury, LGBT+ Centre Manager, The Proud Trust
Andrew Bolland, Strategic Development and Partnerships Manager, Leicester LGBT Centre
Andrew Davies, Chief Executive, Unity Group Wales
Ben Dew, Operations Director and Education & Training Manager, Allsorts Youth Project
Bernard Reed OBE, Trustee, Gender Identity Research and Education Society
Bob Green OBE, Chief Executive, Stonewall Housing
Chris Brown, Secretary, Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival
Dave Viney, Health & Wellbeing Manager, Birmingham LGBT
Helen Walsh, Chief Executive, Space Youth Project
Keith Connelly, Founder, GASBAGS
Dr Jay Stewart, Chief Executive, Gendered Intelligence
John O’Doherty, Director, The Rainbow Project
Jon Price, Co-founder, Proud2Be
Mark Healey, Coordinator, 17-24-30 No To Hate Crime Campaign
Matt Taylor-Roberts, Service Coordinator, Proud 2 b Parents
Monty Moncrieff, Chief Executive, London Friend
Lara Jaffey, Executive Director, The Kite Trust
Lisa Honan, Director, Gender Free World
Louise Evan-Wong, Director, LGBT Federation North East
Lukasz Konieczka, Director of Services, Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre
Nik Noone, Chief Executive, Galop
Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive, Stonewall
Sarah Humphreys, Chair, ELOP
Paul Martin, Chief Executive, LGBT Foundation
Professor Emeritus Sanders, Chair, Schools OUT UK
Stephe Meloy, Vice Chair, Lewisham LGBT Forum
Susie Green, Chief Executive, Mermaids
Dr Tim Crocker-Buque, Chair of Trustees, The Raze Collective
Tom Doyle, Chief Executive, Yorkshire MESMAC
Tyrone Ashby, Chair, Merton LGBT+ Forum
Vicky Worthington, Membership & Engagement Manager, LGBT Consortium
Signatory allied organisations
Ali Harris, Chief Executive, Equality & Diversity Forum
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, British Humanist Association
Andy Gregg, Chief Executive, Race on the Agenda
Anjona Roy, Chief Executive, Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council
Anne Novis, Chair, Inclusion London
Becki Meakin, Manager, Shaping Our Lives
Carola Towle, National LGBT Equality Officer, UNISON
Cathy Maker, Chief Executive, Ruils
Catherine Rayner, Chair, Discrimination Law Association
Colin Adams MBE, Chair, Islington Hate Crime Forum
David Strong, Director, Disability Advice Service Lambeth
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, National AIDS Trust
Elizabeth Blewett, Chief Executive, Reaching Out East
Geraldine O’Halloran, Project Manager, deafPLUS,
Gordon Deuchars, Policy and Campaigns Manager, Age UK London
Huma Munshi, Equality and Strategy Officer, TUC
Iman Abou Atta OBE, Director, Tell MAMA
Jasvir Singh OBE, Co-Chair, Faiths Forum for London
Joe Whittaker, Chair, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People
Jhon Marulanda Garzon, Community Development & Project Manager, Latin American Disabled Peoples Project
John McKernaghan, Chief Officer, The Brunswick Centre
Katharine Collins, LGBT Carers Manager, City and Hackney Carers Centre
Professor Leslie J. Moran, Birkbeck School of Law
Linda Burnip, Steering Group, Disabled People Against Cuts
Professor Paul Iganski, h8hurts.eu
Philip Bramson, Chief Executive, Advonet
Ratna Dutt, Chief Executive Officer, Race Equality Foundation.
Ruth Bashall, Director, Stay Safe East
Stacy Smith, Director, Her Centre
Stephen Brookes MBE, Founder Coordinator, Disability Hate Crime Network
Sue Gorbing, Chair, Safe Ageing No Discrimination
Teresa Mcginn, Chief Executive, Hammersmith & Fulham Mencap
Lisa Redding, Chief Exec, London Voluntary Service Council.
Dr Mark Walters, Reader in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Sussex University
Martin Doyle, Chair, Safety Net – People First
Mhairi McGhee, Coordinator, HEAR Hate Crime Network
Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director, René Cassin
Mike Ainsworth, Chair, Hate Crime Independent Advisory Group
Dr Sarah Crowther, Director, Refugees in Effective and Active Partnership
Dr Wanda Wyporska FRSA, Executive Director, The Equality Trust
Yvonne MacNamara, Chief Executive, The Travellers Movement
Zeenat Jeewa, Joint Chief Executive, Asian Disabled People’s Disability Alliance
Zoe Matthews, Director, Friends, Families and Travellers
Nik Noone, Chief Executive of Galop, the LGBT anti-violence charity said: ‘The current two-tier system gives lesser protections to LGBT and disabled victims of hate crime. That doesn’t reflect public opinion and we call for an equal footing to tackle all forms of hate crime. Now is the right time for a full review of these laws to ensure they are fair, coherent and effective.’
An overview of current hate crime laws can be found on pages 19 to 22 of the following report:
The Law Commission was tasked by the Westminster government to examine English and Welsh hate crime laws. Its 2014 report recommended a full review of hate crime laws. The government has not carried this out. Its report stated: ‘We share the view of many consultees that it is undesirable for the aggravated offences not to apply equally to hostility based on race, religion, transgender identity, sexual orientation and disability. It sends the wrong message about the impact of such offending and the seriousness with which it is taken…’.
A summary of the report can be found here: