‘Hate crime’ laws mean some victims are more equal than others

Feb 2, 2017 by

By Andrew Tettenborn, TCW:

How can equality laws create inequality, protective laws put people in peril and high-minded motives spawn deep cynicism? Easy, once you factor in the law of unintended consequences. Thoughtful people will have been reminded of this a few days ago when the otherwise excellent Sajid Javid proudly released £375,000 to organisations aimed at reporting hate crime and promised more backing for National Hate Crime Awareness Week.

The idea of hate crime as some sort of numinous, separate entity is about twenty years old. Apart from crude incitement to racial hatred, rightly forbidden by statute since 1965 (and probably illegal at common law), it started – you guessed – with Tony Blair. 1998 saw separate offences of racially-motivated assault and vandalism created, with bigger penalties than other assault and vandalism. This was later extended to religious motivation and to other offences; and since 2000 any offence had automatically carried a higher sentence if racially or religiously aggravated. All this has the support of police, government, and the great and the good. You can even learn all about it at law school.

What’s not to like about this? Quite a lot.

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