Women’s rights activists have criticized the Law Commission for rejecting proposals to make misogyny a hate crime.
The independent body, which recommends legal changes, argued the move would create “hierarchies of victims” and make it harder to prosecute rape and domestic violence.
Currently, there are five protected characteristics under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and Section 66 of the Sentencing Act 2020: race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity.
Activists wanted sex and gender added to this, so crimes found to be motivated by hatred of women were categorized as hate crimes and given harsher sentences.
But instead the commission suggested ministers extend ‘incitement to hatred’ under the Public Order Act 1986 to include doing so on grounds of sex and gender. This would make it an offense to make comments in public that are perceived to incite hatred of women. But these would be prosecuted under public order rather than hate crime legislation.
In a report released today, the commission also indicated the need for a specific offense of public sexual harassment.
Women’s rights activists, including Labor MP Stella Creasy, have been frustrated by the Law Commission’s recommendation that misogyny should not become a hate crime
But a statement from 20 women’s rights organizations and campaigners, including Labor MP Stella Creasy and former Nottinghamshire police chief Sue Fish, accused the commission of failing.
They said: ‘The commission’s review is too narrow and fails to recognize the value of including misogyny to enable the recording of incidents, which are currently invisible.
“By failing to bring together hate crime legislation, it specifically ignores the experiences of women in minority communities who experience hate based on multiple factors, but who are too often abandoned by the criminal justice system because they do not match their checkboxes.
“This report should not be used by the government to launch actions against violence against women and girls in the long grass and should instead support proposals for legislation now, including the urgent roll-out of the registration of misogynistic crimes in all police forces.
Call to ban incel ideology to fight violence against women
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent for the Daily Mail
Hate crime laws should be extended to cover extreme misogynists who incite attacks on women, the report advises.
The Law Commission highlighted “several acts of extremist violence” inspired by the ideology of “involuntary celibacy” or “incel”.
“In response to the growing threat of ‘incel’ ideology and its potential to lead to serious criminal offences, we recommend the creation of an offense of incitement to hatred based on sex or gender,” says his report.
The commissioners said this would not apply to “merely offensive” behavior, but to behavior “clearly inciting acts of hatred and violence”.
The report added: “What we are referring to is threatening or abusive material that incites and glorifies violence, including sexual violence, against women and girls, and praises men who murder women. “
He was referring to the case of 22-year-old Jake Davison who shot dead five people in Plymouth in August. He had posted a series of hate-fueled online rants inspired by the ‘incel’ movement, which advocates violence against women they blame for their inability to have sex.
“Women and girls have waited too long to be equally protected and will continue to fight for it.”
The commission said prosecuting people who stir up hostility on the basis of sex or gender would combat the “growing threat” of extreme misogyny.
He said so-called ‘incel’ culture – found among ‘involuntarily celibate’ people in an ‘overly male online community’ that believes society is defined by physical appearance – had the potential to lead to serious offences. criminal.
His 550-page report to the government contains 34 recommendations and makes a reference to the case of Jake Davison, who murdered five people in a shooting in Plymouth in August this year, amid claims he had “sought incel hardware and published videos”. online expressing feelings Incel’.
He also suggested that the government undertake a review of the need for a specific offense of sexual harassment in public.
Other recommendations include reforming hate crime legislation to ensure victims with disabilities and LGBT+ receive the same protections as victims with other protected characteristics, such as race and religion.
Professor Penney Lewis, spokesperson for the Law Commission, said: ‘Hate crime has a terrible impact on victims and it is unacceptable that current levels of protection are so inconsistent.
“Our recommendations would improve the protection of victims while ensuring the protection of the right to freedom of expression.”
In England and Wales, ‘hate crime’ is generally used to refer to the aggravation of the seriousness of existing criminal offences, such as assault, harassment or criminal damage, as there is an element additional “hostility”.
Racial hate crime laws were introduced following the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993, and have since been expanded to include religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity.
However, free speech campaigners sounded the alarm last night – arguing that the sweeping expansion of hate crime laws would leave people ‘scared to speak their minds’.
Official government advisers on legal reform have proposed giving special protection from prosecution to those who express ‘gender-critical’ views, such as feminists who doubt that a man can change sex to a woman. .
Former Nottinghamshire Police Chief Constable Sue Fish was also a signatory to the statement
But despite this concession, critics have warned that the trend towards ever more restrictive hate crime laws is damaging free speech, with one saying the proposals risk being a form of ” state fascism”.
As a result, the proposals mean that some offenses against transgender people could result in longer prison sentences than those aimed at biological women.
Extreme views at the table WILL NOT be criminalized
By David Barrette
Proposals that would have criminalized hate speech around the dinner table have been dropped.
The Law Commission had planned to end an exemption to hate speech laws that applies to views expressed in accommodation.
A consultation paper released last year suggested deleting the “poorly targeted” exception because a public meeting could take place in a home and a private conversation could take place outside a home.
But after an outcry – highlighted in the Mail last November – the commission has backtracked in its final proposals published today. The newspaper said: ‘We consider this exception to be poorly targeted. For example, the exception would protect a public meeting in a private home, but not a private conversation in a family’s car or vacation home.
Instead, he suggested replacing the exemption with a broader exception for “private conversations”.
The document said: “We concluded that simply repealing the housing exception would not strike the right balance between the need to protect against the spread of hatred and the incitement of violence and unlawfulness, and respect for a person’s private, family and family life.’
It comes after repeated attacks on Harry Potter author JK Rowling for raising concerns that women’s rights are being eroded by trans activists.
And in October, philosopher Kathleen Stock resigned from her academic post at the University of Sussex after being accused of “transphobia”.
Dr David Green, chief executive of think tank Civitas, said: ‘The Law Commission’s proposals will do nothing to protect Kathleen Stock or JK Rowling.
“The law in a free society should let people know whether they will be arrested or not. We are creating more and more areas where people can never really be sure. The result is that people are afraid to express their opinions.
“The law does not belong to the realm of opinion, unless these speakers stray into incitement to violence.” Harry Miller, of free speech pressure group Fair Cop, who was investigated by the police for retweeting an allegedly transphobic limerick, said: ‘The law is moving from protecting the individual to protection and regulation of ideologies, and this is a form of state fascism.
“The Law Commission has said critical views on gender should be exempt, but that’s not the right way to look at it. We should never need permission to criticize an ideology. This permission should be taken for granted. The Law Commission said its recommendations “would not criminalize ‘offensive’ comments”, nor criminalize those who tell sexist jokes.
“They (the proposed changes) would not prevent people from discussing gender differences or expressing views about women’s suitability for positions in religious or secular authority,” the review said. .
“What we are referring to is threatening or abusive material that incites and glorifies violence, including sexual violence, against women and girls, and praises men who murder women.”
He also suggested the government should consider whether a “tailor-made public sexual harassment offence” should be created, rather than a hate crime offence.
He said: “The existing offenses that currently apply to abuse and harassment of women in public spaces focus quite heavily on threatening and abusive language and disorderly behaviour.
“A specific public sexual harassment offense could be crafted to better capture the degrading and sexualized nature of the behavior that frequently occurs in these online and offline contexts.”