Friday 19 November 2021 / 5:05 PM Anneliese Dodds / Crime / Equalities / LGBT+

Labour pledges “tougher, fairer” hate crime laws to keep LGBT+ people safer

Labour has today pledged to strengthen and equalise the law so that every category of hate crime is treated as an aggravated offence.

The change will lead to tougher sentences for those who commit hate crimes targeted at someone’s sexual identity, transgender identity or disability.

Announcing the policy on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary Anneliese Dodds said they would lead to “tougher, fairer” laws that would help keep LGBT+ and disabled people safer.

‘Aggravated offences’ are separate, aggravated versions of eleven existing criminal offences (including assault, public order offences, harassment and criminal damage) which carry higher maximum penalties than the ‘base’ offence to which they relate.

At present, only hate crimes motivated by racial and religious hostility are classed as aggravated offences, meaning that only two of the five protected characteristics can attract longer sentences compared to the same crime not motivated by hate.

In 2014 the Law Commission recommended that the aggravated offences regime be extended to all five characteristics, but since then little progress has been made by the Conservative Government.

Labour’s proposal is to accept that recommendation to ensure that everyone who falls victim to hate crime is treated equally under the law, and that the perpetrators of anti-LGBT+ and disability hate can no longer dodge longer sentences.

The announcement comes as the latest Home Office statistics reveal police recorded hate crimes based on sexual identity and transgender identity have doubled in the last five years.

The call is one of a raft of changes that Labour is proposing to make life safer for women, LGBT+ people and others with protected characteristics, including Labour’s call for misogyny to be treated as a hate crime, for an outright ban on LGBT+ conversion therapies and a range of proposals included in the Party’s Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Green Paper.

Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Party Chair and Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, said:

“It is totally unacceptable that police recorded hate crimes against LGBT+ people have doubled in the last five years. That’s why, on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, Labour is committing to do something to stop it.

“All victims of hate crime have a right to expect equal treatment under the law, but that’s not the case today. So Labour will fix this injustice by bringing in tougher, fairer hate crime laws so that every category of hate crime is treated as an aggravated offence – and those who commit hate crimes against LGBT+ and disabled people can no longer get away with softer sentences.

“The Conservatives could have done this years ago, but they’ve sat on their hands as usual. There is little wonder that former members of their now defunct LGBT advisory panel have accused ministers of creating a hostile environment for LGBT people.

“Labour recognises that trans rights are human rights. So we would update the Gender Recognition Act to enable a process of self-identification while continuing to support the implementation of the Equality Act, including the single sex exemption. We would ban conversion therapies outright immediately. And we would introduce these vital changes to hate crime laws that we’re announcing today.

“Equalising hate crime laws is just one way in which Labour would seek to end the Conservatives’ epidemic of violence on our streets. We have set out a wide range of proposals in our Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Green Paper, including sweeping reforms to sentencing and protections for women and girls and treating misogyny as a hate crime.

“The Conservative Government is failing our communities on every front. Only Labour has a plan to make them safer.”