What is a Hate Crime?
Hate crime are acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are. The term 'hate crime' can be used to describe a range of criminal behaviour where the perpetrator is motivated by prejudice, hostility or demonstrates hostility towards the victim's:
- race, ethnicity, ethnic or national origins (including citizenship)
- religion belief, philosophical belief or no-belief
- sexual orientation
- transgender identity
These aspects of a person's identity are known as 'protected characteristics'.
Anyone can be a victim of hate crime even if they are not actually a member of the group the hostility is aimed at. For example you could be called a racist slur without being a member of that particular race.
Hate Crime offenses
Hate crime (or hate incidents) can take many forms which can include:
- name calling
- physical and/or sexual assault
- threats of violence
- verbal abuse which can include name calling and offensive jokes
- on-line abuse using social media
- hoax calls, abusive phone or text messages, hate mail
- displaying or circulating discriminatory literature or posters
- theft, harm or criminal damage to things such as your home, pet, vehicle
Incidents can be one-off events or form part of a series of repeated and targeted offending. The hostility may target individuals, groups, those associated with such groups, or at property e.g. homes, places of work or worship, and community venues.
Impact of Hate Crime
Hate crimes often have a disproportionate impact on the victim because they are being targeted for a personal characteristic. Hate crime not only impact the individual victim but also the wider community. Hate incidents as one-offs or a related series of events can send reverberations through communities, they affect individual’s emotional wellbeing being and create fear, humiliation and anger, reinforcing established patterns of prejudice and discrimination. Individuals themselves do not have to be targeted to be impacted: simply knowing someone who has been victimised is sufficient to cause these effects.
Hate crimes, whether experienced directly, indirectly, through the media, in person or online were consistently linked to:
- increased feelings of vulnerability, anxiety, anger, and sometimes shame
- being more security conscious, avoidant, and more active within the community
- states of fear and withdrawal from society, leading to lack of participation in educational opportunities, employment and cultural life. Fear leads to increased isolation which can then lead to increasing the likelihood of further victimisation.
Experiencing Hate Crimes can be a regular occurrence in someone’s life, just walking down the street can be enough for stranger to hurl abuse at someone. When this happens where someone lives, works or spends their leisure time can significantly impact on their life. Any attack can feel very personal and can be a particularly frightening experience as you've been targeted because of who you are, or who or what your attacker thinks you are.