Well, that’s another Hate Crime Awareness Week in the books and what a busy week it was! As BHCA flew from event to event, whether it was delivering a speech for Bradford Cathedral’s Service of Hope and Remembrance for hate crime, building awareness with students at Leeds Trinity University alongside West Yorkshire Police, engaging with the general public at The Broadway and Keighley’s Airedale Centre, or recording a podcast with staff and students at Bradford University, the week provided a multitude of opportunities to raise the profile of hate crime within the public consciousness, answer questions and discuss underlying issues. Almost everyone we met agreed that hate crime was a terrible thing and needed to be dealt with more effectively.
A full programme of events across the week were available meaning that hundreds of people were able to engage and learn about the true impact of hate crime; not just on the victims themselves, but the communities who identify with them and therefore, all of society as we know it. Collective responsibility is the solution. This isn’t a “them and us” scenario, we’re all responsible for tackling hate crime because it affects all of us individually, whether we know it or not. We’re all members of society are we not? This is vital information when you consider that we can, if we work collectively to call out and report hate crimes and incidents that we may be subjected to or witness, eradicate hate crime. So, it would be safe to assume that the powers that be, would be chomping at the bit to promote the week and condemn hate crime, right? Wrong! On the Thursday, just before recording the podcast at Bradford University, I saw a social media post from the National Hate Crime Awareness Week organisation stating that, despite widespread online support from individuals across the political spectrum, not one mention of HCAW was made publicly by either the Home Office or the Prime Minister. This is glaring radio silence from the government, particularly given the significance of the week. But why wouldn’t they speak out against hate crime? Surely the fight against hate crime should be supported by all political parties across the spectrum.
It’s hard to imagine why anyone could oppose something that protects the vulnerable from abuse. Yet when the Law Commission published its consultation paper on hate crime legislation reform in 2020, it received 2473 written responses and stated that a significant number of those were either against legislation altogether or against any extension to what already exists. Of 33 recommendations made by the final report, only one has been agreed to by the government so far; to not include gender as a protected characteristic for hate crime legislation coverage in sexual abuse cases.
So, here’s the thing…how can it be that people would willingly want to remove protection from those who need it most. Is this political ideology? Or does prejudice – consciously or unconsciously – come into play? As humans can we not just agree that the suffering of fellow humans due to their race, religious belief, sexuality, disability, or gender identity should be above the political fray? Surely, we can all agree that every human deserves the right to live their lives free from the fear of abuse and attack just for being who they are. But if we can’t agree, then perhaps it’s time for us to ask ourselves why.