Laws That Cover Hate Crime
This section explains how the law can protect LGBT+ people from different forms of abuse.
This resource has been compiled with assistance from Pink Law and School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London: Breanne Becker, Frances Ridout, Gabriella Denlew, Julie Pinborough, Karl Laird, Michael Southern-Augustine.
What is a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime?
According to the police definition, a hate crime is any criminal offence which is perceived by the
victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice toward someone’s actual or
perceived race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or transgender identity. It therefore
includes crimes that are motivated by homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. Hate crimes can
affect people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans, but also people who are only
perceived to be LGBT+.
Did I experience a hate crime?
The media often focuses on violent hate crimes, which can sometimes overshadow the more
everyday verbal abuse or derogatory language that many people experience, but which may still
be a crime. Sometimes it’s obvious that you’ve experienced a hate crime, for example if
someone hits you while making obviously homophobic, biphobic or transphobic comments.
However, it is often less clear, such as when people make prejudiced comments or offensive
jokes. If you feel that someone has done or said something that was motivated by prejudice it’s
best to trust your instincts. Even if you are not sure if what they have done has broken a criminal
law, you can still report it to the police or talk to an LGBT charity about it.
How do courts deal with it?
In a criminal trial involving a potential homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime, the court
first decides if the accused person is guilty of a criminal offence, such as assault. Then it must
ask whether the accused person’s actions demonstrated or were motivated by hostility towards
someone’s sexual orientation or transgender identity. If so, the court must increase the
sentence that person receives above what it would have been if it was not a hate crime. Courts
do this by applying section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
Laws that cover hate crime
This section describes some of the key criminal laws that can apply to certain situations
involving hate crime.
If you have been a victim of a biphobic, homophobic or transphobic hate crime and want to get advice or support contact Galop.
Advice line and reporting: 020 7704 2040
Online help and reporting: www.galop.org.uk
If you need to get further legal advice on any aspect of your case Galop can put you in contact with Pink Law on 020 7882 3931.