Hate crime

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Hate incidents and hate crimes are acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are. For example, you may have had abuse shouted at you on the street because you were holding hands with your same-sex partner.

Police forces in England and Wales make a distinction between a hate crime and a hate incident.

A hate incident is defined as any act, which may or may not be a crime, that the victim or any other person perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards an aspect of a person’s identity. Hate incidents include:

  • verbal abuse like name-calling
  • harassment
  • physical attacks such as hitting, punching, pushing, spitting
  • threats of violence
  • hoax calls, abusive phone or text messages, hate mail
  • online abuse for example on Facebook or Twitter
  • harm or damage to things such as your home, pet, vehicle
  • graffiti
  • arson.

A hate crime is any illegal act that the victim or any other person perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudices towards an aspect of a person’s identity.

When an act is classed as a hate crime, the judge can impose a tougher sentence on the offender under the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia

Homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crimes or incidents are motivated by the offender’s hostility or prejudice towards lesbian, gay, bi or trans people.

Anyone can be a victim of a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic incident – it does not matter if the victim is lesbian, gay, bi, trans or straight.

It is a hate crime if someone shouts homophobic, biphobic or transphobic abuse at someone in the street, or physically attacks them because they think they’re gay, lesbian, bi or trans.

Report it

If you feel you have experienced a hate crime or incident, report it. The police can only do something if they know about it. If they don’t know, they can’t prevent things from getting worse. By reporting a crime or an incident you could be protecting someone else from harm.

There are a number of ways to report a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime or incident:

  • In an emergency call 999
  • At other times you can contact your local police force by dialling 101
  • You can report crime anonymously through the police website True Vision
  • You can get more support from Stop Hate UK
  • Some local LGBT groups provide hate crime reporting services. Find details for a group in your area through our ‘What’s in my area?‘ database
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