- Gender is already a factor in a third of all existing hate crime – but gender is not currently protected under hate crime law.
Two women who suffered a violent homophobic attack on a London bus are highlighting why hate crime law should also protect people on the basis of gender.
A new report by the charity Citizens UK shows that women are three times more likely to experience sexual violence and threats than men. And it found that 33.5% of hate crimes already have gender as a factor.
Meanwhile the majority of women who suffer a hate crime don’t report it, the study found.
Moreover, that figure is even higher among trans and non-binary people who suffer a hate crime. 67.7% of them have never reported it.
Melania Geymonat and her partner Chris made headlines around the world after they suffered a vile homophobic attack on a London bus in May last year. Since then, they have campaigned to help others.
They said: ‘We were beaten up by a group of young men, who demanded that we kiss. It started off with aggressive harassment and quickly escalated into assault and robbery.
‘In the wake of being subjected to a homophobic hate crime we have been looking to find ways to ensure that we prevent other, more vulnerable people, from having to go through the horrors we did.’
‘Misogyny, transphobia and homophobia alongside antisemitism’
Now campaigners hope to make progress on getting misogyny into hate crimes law.
In England, the Law Commission will shortly undertake a public consultation about reviewing the law. Meanwhile Scotland is already taking a misogyny hate crime law through the Holyrood Parliament.
Participants in the Citizens UK report particularly supported an intersectional approach to tackling hate crime. This would make it easier to report an attack that was both racist and homophobic, for example.
Religious leaders supporting the report also highlighted how this was a common experience. Rabbi Robyn Ashworth Steen, from Reform Synagogue in Manchester said:
‘There are some shocking stories from my community including misogyny, transphobia and homophobia alongside antisemitism.
‘We’ve shared evidence with the government review and community safety remains a top concern – as women, as Jews, as people who are gay. This abuse sadly hasn’t gone away since lockdown.’
Senior policing expert, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Philip Grindell, says it’s time to act:
‘Women are being disproportionately targeted on the basis of their gender. There is ample evidence of an escalation of threats and attacks against high profile women – reflecting a wider problem in society at large and the need for policing to adjust accordingly.’
Moreover, one former police chief has already had success in treating misogyny as a hate crime.
Sue Fish introduced reporting of misogyny as a hate crime while Nottinghamshire’s Acting Chief Constable in 2016.
She said: ‘Making misogyny a hate crime was one of the simplest tasks I’ve ever done working in the police – and yet the results that we saw were incredible.
‘Some of the feedback we had was that women, for the first time, described themselves as walking taller and with their “heads held high”.’
The new study from Citizens UK surveyed 1,000 respondents in England and Wales. It also held focus groups in Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle, Manchester and London.