The Bar has welcomed the proposed reforms that would ensure that disabled and LGBT + victims of hate crimes have the same protection as those targeted because of their race or religion.
Following a thorough review of hate crime and hate speech laws, the Law Commission issued several recommendations to address inconsistencies in how hate crime laws address different protected characteristics. For example, aggravated offenses, which can carry harsher penalties, currently only apply to racial and religious hostility.
The commission recommends expanding aggravated offenses to cover all of the features that exist in hate crime laws: race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and transgender identity.
Law Society President I. Stephanie Boyce said: “In our response to the consultation, we said it was illogical for aggravated offenses to apply only to hostility based on race or religion. and should include stronger sentencing provisions on hostility based on transgender identity, disability and sexual orientation. ‘
The commission tentatively proposed adding sex and gender as protected characteristics for the purposes of aggravated offenses and increased penalties, given three potential reform options. However, he concluded that the proposals “create more problems than they solve”.
Boyce said: “We have expressed concerns about the relevance of this proposal as it creates problems on how to deal with forced marriage, FGM, domestic violence and sexual offenses, which are primarily against women. The prosecution’s already difficult task of proving rape and other sexual offenses could be compounded by the need to prove aggravation based on gender as well, further complicating these trials and increasing the trauma of victims.
Instead, the commission says the government should examine the need for a specific offense of public sexual harassment.
The commission makes 34 recommendations in its vast report.