Law Commission report calls for overhaul of outdated hate crime laws

Besi Besemar May 28, 2014

GalopAn anti-homophobia and transphobia charity has welcomed a report calling for hate crime laws to be overhauled.

Galop, which helps victims of hate crime have called the current legal system nonsensical and ripe for change.

The Law Commission report calls for an end to courts using one system for anti-race and faith hate crime, and another less effective one for homophobic, anti-transgender and disability crimes.

Under the current system homophobic criminal damage can be punished with 10 years in prison, the same as if it had not been homophobic. But the same crime could be punished with 14 years if it was racist. Transphobic common assault has a 6 month maximum but anti-faith common assault can be punished with 2 years.

A Galop spokesperson said: “We welcome this report and are urging the government to act on it. Everyone should be able to feel the legal system is equally behind them whatever type of hate crime they experience. 

“Many people are surprised that this difference exists and agree with us that it is outdated, nonsensical and needs to change. We hope that this is the first step toward giving police and courts the tools to tackle all types of hate crime on an equal footing.

“Our clients are usually living through a traumatic time and most will never see the inside of a courtroom. That means courts need to get things right for those brave few who stand up to their attackers in court.

“We were disappointed that the report did not recommend reforming the messy laws that prohibit extreme hate speech. We will continue campaigning for those protections to be extended to transgender and disabled people though.”

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