A Call for Equal Hate Crime Laws: Joint Letter from 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.
The current two-tier system gives lesser protections to people targeted because they are LGBT or disabled and deaf people compared with laws focused on race and faith hate crime. The current outdated laws send a message that some groups are more worthy of protection than others, which undermines the confidence of victims in authorities.
Following the Brexit vote we saw a rise in recorded hate crimes across communities, 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We call on political parties to stand against all forms of prejudice by committing to a full review of outdated hate crime laws in England and Wales. 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 anti-LGBT 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 homophobic, transphobic or disability hate crime compared with race or faith hate crime.
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 all on parties to commit to equalising 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.
Anne Novis, Chair, Inclusion London
Ben Dew, Operations Director and Education & Training Manager, Allsorts Youth Project
Bob Green OBE, Chief Executive, Stonewall Housing
Dave Viney, Health & Wellbeing Manager, Birmingham LGBT
Dr Ali. Hanbury, LGBT+ Centre Manager, The Proud Trust
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
Lara Jaffey, Executive Director, The Kite Trust
Lukasz Konieczka, Manager, Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre
Nik Noone, Chief Executive, Galop
Sarah Humphreys, Chair, ELOP
Tom Doyle, Chief Executive, Yorkshire MESMAC
Vicky Worthington, Membership & Engagement Manager, LGBT Consortium