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Hate crime

If you're being picked on because of the colour of your skin, your sexual orientation, or the way you live you could be a victim of hate crime. Here's how to stop it.

Hate crime is when someone attacks another person verbally, via mail or email, or perhaps physically, and the crime is driven by the attacker's prejudice against a particular group of people. While more hate crime is verbal than physical, that does not mean it's not serious or very upsetting for the person being harassed.

What is hate crime?

The important thing with hate crime is that it's down to the attacker's perception of the other person. For example, John writes Paul a nasty email because he thinks Paul is gay. Even if Paul's not actually gay, John was still attacking him because John thought he was. That's still a homophobic hate crime, because of the motivation of the attacker.

The two most common forms of hate crime are racism and homophobia.

  • Racism When a person commits a crime against someone because of the colour of their skin, their ethnic background, their accent or use of a foreign language.
  • Homophobia When someone is victimised because of their sexuality, because they are, or the attacker thinks they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual.
  • Other kinds of hate crime Violence or harassment against people because of their religion, refugee or asylum seeker status or disability is also hate crime. Domestic violence can also be considered by the police to be a hate crime, but is treated separately.

I'm a victim of hate crime, what should I do?

Don't retaliate: You could risk violence or make the situation worse.

Tell someone about it: Hate crime is inexcusable and should be dealt with as soon as possible. If you're at school or college, tell a teacher or staff member what has happened and they'll help you sort it out and help you decide whether you want to inform the police.

Report it: It's your right to go to the police, report a crime and have it investigated. If you're scared to go to the police there are other ways you can report it anonymously. Visit Stop Hate UK, which will direct you to someone you can talk to. It also has a phone helpline, text service and email chat if you feel you need support.

Updated: 31/10/2012

Elizabeth Varley

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