You have signed an e-petition suggesting that the definition of 'hate crime' be widened to include crimes committed on the basis of a person's appearance or interests.
The Government's current definition of 'hate crime' is as follows:
- A 'hate incident' is any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by hate or prejudice.
- A 'hate crime' is any incident which contributes to a criminal offence, perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.
Within this broad definition, legislation focuses on hate crimes on the basis of race, faith, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity - and it is these categories which are currently monitored. We do not plan to extend this to include hatred against people on the basis of their appearance or sub-cultural interests. These are not intrinsic characteristics of a person and could be potentially be very wide ranging, including for example allegiance to football teams - which makes this a very difficult category to legislate for. However, it is important to remember that this is within a legal framework that assumes that all violence is a very serious matter; and in addition, judges have discretion to look at a wide range of mitigating and aggravating factors when they are sentencing - and are likely to view attacks motivated by hatred of this kind as very serious indeed.
Th SOPHIE campaign has replied:
Sophies myspace page have posted the following:
Many of you will have had an email today telling you that the hate crime extension petition has failed.Of course religion is not an "intrinsic characteristic" either but the fact is despite the difficulty in framing a definition as this blog shows subcultural violence does happen. If you are competent you do something about it. Hopefully the SOPHIE campaigns efforts will inspire further action.
We are not surprised by this and we have further work to do with politicians, but not until after the sentencing on the 28th April
We would like to thank Ade Varney who wrote this petition for his work over the last few months. He did so even though he did not know Sophie or Rob. he did it because like so many of us, he'd had enough.
Please bear with us while the sentencing has happened and then we will produce a letter you can download to send to your MP (In the UK) and other nations representatives.
thank you to all who were able to sign it, there is more to do to make sure what happened to Sophie does not happen again
You can read about varney's ideas and motivations here:
On Hate Crime, by Ade Varney11 Apr 2008
In Canada the police are addressing the potential problem of subcultural conflict via hate crime units directed against homophobia and they are worried by the Mexican example:
All of which emphasizes the need for programs like the Toronto police force’s new campaign to encourage youth to report incidents of homophobic violence. The education- and awareness-based program is in development, pending approval from the Toronto District School Board.The connection between homophobia and subcultural attacks seems self apparent in the riots in Mexico and in other assaults. And it is no wonder they are worried there because in Canada like elsewhere in the world violence motivated by subcultural differences is not unknown as actual police officers are well aware:
Obviously, “emo” and “queer” aren’t synonymous, but Constable Tom Decker, who heads up the new campaign, thinks it could be a precautionary step in helping Toronto avoid copycat attacks.
“There’s not a single root cause for homophobia and transphobia, but it stems from heterosexism and sexism in general,” he insists. “The less a person conforms to sexist standards, the more he will be grouped into a homosexual camp.”
Decker says kids on the non-normative side of the spectrum are reluctant to report bullying episodes for fear of being victimized again. “Society has also taught these kids that this is just what everyone does, that bullying happens, so they become complacent and feel as though they just have to accept it.” No emo = no homo?
Eye Weekly, Canada -
9 Apr 2008
Threats of violence keep high school students home
Guelph Mercury, Canada -
In December, there was a threat of a fight between two rival subcultures, the "jocks" and the "emos" (often described as a shier, artistic group). ..Though the showdown never happened the move towards confrontation was a result of escalating clashes between the two groups in the school with name calling and individual fights. Taking preventative measures was sensible. Schools and local authorities need to be aware whether these differences are "intrinsic" or not they lead to abuse and violence.
(Some similarities to this earlier story: