Hate incidents and hate crimes are acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are. For example, you may have had abuse shouted at you on the street because you were holding hands with your same-sex partner.
Police forces in England and Wales make a distinction between a hate crime and a hate incident.
A hate incident is defined as any act, which may or may not be a crime, that the victim or any other person perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards an aspect of a person’s identity. Hate incidents include:
- verbal abuse like name-calling
- physical attacks such as hitting, punching, pushing, spitting
- threats of violence
- hoax calls, abusive phone or text messages, hate mail
- online abuse for example on Facebook or Twitter
- harm or damage to things such as your home, pet, vehicle
A hate crime is any illegal act that the victim or any other person perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudices towards an aspect of a person's identity.
When an act is classed as a hate crime, the judge can impose a tougher sentence on the offender under the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
Homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crimes or incidents are motivated by the offender's hostility or prejudice towards lesbian, gay, bi or trans people.
Anyone can be a victim of a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic incident - it does not matter if the victim is lesbian, gay, bi, trans or straight.
It is a hate crime if someone shouts homophobic, biphobic or transphobic abuse at someone in the street, or physically attacks them because they think they're gay, lesbian, bi or trans.
If you feel you have experienced a hate crime or incident, report it. The police can only do something if they know about it. If they don't know, they can't prevent things from getting worse. By reporting a crime or an incident you could be protecting someone else from harm.
There are a number of ways to report a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime or incident:
- In an emergency call 999
- At other times you can contact your local police force by dialling 101
- You can report crime anonymously through the police website True Vision
- You can get more support from Stop Hate UK
- Some local LGBT groups provide hate crime reporting services. Find details for a group in your area through our 'What's in my area?' database
Have you experienced or witnessed a hate crime or hate incident?
At Stonewall, we know the terrible effects that experiencing a hate crime or hate incident can have on a person and their loved ones. No one should have to go through verbal or physical threats and violence simply for who they are.
We work with the police, schools, workplaces, government and other people and institutions across Britain and around the world. We make them understand why hate crime against LGBT people is wrong, the impact it has and how to end it.
As a charity, the only way we can achieve this is with the support of our generous donors. To inspire new support, we need to help people understand what it means to be subjected to hate and discrimination. That’s why we need you to share your story. The statistics on anti-LGBT hate crime are shocking, but it’s personal stories that resonate with people and get them to act.
If you have a story or an experience that you think can help change attitudes and inspire action, please complete our ‘Share your story’ form.
You can find LGBT-friendly solicitors and other useful contacts through Stonewall's online database What's In My Area.
For further information contact Stonewall's Information Service.