Labour’s Anneliese Dodds pledges tougher sentences for LGBT+ hate crimes

‘All victims of hate crime have a right to expect equal treatment under the law’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Saturday 20 November 2021 15:02
Comments
<p>Shadow women and equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds</p>

Shadow women and equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds

Labour’s Anneliese Dodds has pledged to introduce tougher sentences for those who commit hate crimes against people on the basis of their sexuality, gender identity, or disability.

Accusing the Conservatives of inaction on the issue, the party said it would reform existing laws to make the system more equitable – ensuring all hate crimes are “treated as an aggregated offence”.

Under existing legislation courts can use enhanced sentencing in cases of hate crimes, which demonstrate hostility based on one of five “protected characteristics”, including race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

However, in some cases where a crime is found to have been motivated by racial or religious hostility, they can be “upgraded” to aggravated offences – carrying tougher sentences – alongside cases of assault, harassment and criminal damage.

In 2014 the Law Commission recommended that aggravated offences be extended to disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity, and last year proposed a consultation into reforming hate crimes.

It recognised that “groups who are protected to a lesser degree – notably LGBT+ and disabled people – argue that this is wrong in principle, and has a damaging effect in practice”.

Labour said it would change the law 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 crime can no longer dodge longer sentences”.

Marking Transgender Day of Remembrance, the party’s chair and shadow equalities minister Ms Dodds said: “It is totally unacceptable that police recorded hate crimes against LGBT+ people have doubled in the last five years.

“All victims of hate crime have a right to expect equal treatment under the law, but that’s not the case today,” she added.

“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.”

Ms Dodds also reiterated the party’s policy on reforming the Gender Recognition Act to enable self-identification – a reform dropped by the Conservatives last year – and called for an “outright” ban on so-called conversion therapies.

“Labour recognises that trans rights are human rights,” she said. “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.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in