Visible force for change.

This is an excerpt from WPG NI Statement on the Law Commission Hate Crime Report.

The WPG would like to express our extreme disappointment in the recent report from the Law Commission on the review of Hate Crime. This review stated:

“Sex or gender” should not be added to the protected characteristics for aggravated offences and enhanced sentencing as it would be ineffective at protecting women and girls and in some cases, counterproductive.

For example, if applied in the context of rape and domestic abuse it could make it more difficult to secure prosecutions and create unhelpful hierarchies of victims. However, if these contexts are excluded, it would make sex or gender very much the poor relation of hate crime characteristics, applicable only in certain, limited contexts.

However, the Commission has made a number of recommendations to provide greater protection”.

  • Extending the offence of stirring up hatred to cover stirring up hatred on the grounds of sex or gender. This would help to tackle the growing threat of extremist misogynist “incel” ideology, and its potential to lead to serious criminal offending.
  • A government review of the need for a specific offence to tackle public sexual harassment, which would likely be more effective than adding sex or gender to hate crime laws.

Many women and women’s organisations across Northern Ireland will be extremely disappointed and frustrated by the response of the Law Commission, in which they have made a u-turn and decided not to recognise misogyny as a hate crime. Further, the Law Commission has failed to recognise the deep systemic nature of misogynistic hate crimes.

The full WPG Hate Crime Legislation Review Public Consultation Response can be viewed here. In addition, we have gathered significant evidence, data and recommendations relating to all forms of Male Violence Towards Women and Girls within our WPG COVID-19 Feminist Recovery Plan, which we believe the Law Commission should consider.

The WPG will provide a more detailed response to the Law Commission report in early 2022. For now, the WPG wants to express our extreme disappointment in the position taken by the Law Commission.