(16 November 2021) Today on International Tolerance Day, Age Action, as a member of the Coalition Against Hate Crime, joined 19 other organisations, academics and individuals representing communities commonly targeted by hate crime and discrimination have called on the government to enact promised legislation against hate and to make ending hate crimes a national priority. The Oireachtas Justice Committee will hear from several of these organisations at its first hearing on the Hate Crime Bill on Wednesday.
Hate crimes are existing crimes motivated by hatred against people because of their actual or perceived membership of a particular group. They are message crimes, intended to frighten, intimidate and silence entire communities. Society as a whole suffers as a result, yet Ireland has no laws to protect our communities from these crimes.
In bringing in a law on hate crime, Ireland will align with international and European human rights standards. But hate crime legislation is only the first step in eliminating hate crime. Government must also roll-out other actions – including educational measures – which lead to societal change.
Our coalition also calls on the government to consider fair trial rights, and to provide a clearer framework and rationale for why certain groups and offences are included in the legislation, and others are not. We urge the government to meet our communities who have been affected by hate crime again to better shape legislation and wider policy measures.
With this Bill, the government is also reviewing the legislation on incitement to hatred which dates back to 1989. While we welcome this review and recognise the link between extreme hate speech and hate crime, our coalition is concerned that the two issues are being treated together under the same legislation while being distinct. We are also concerned that government consultations took place only on hate speech, and not on hate crime. When legislating on incitement to hatred, the government must also give proper consideration to freedom of expression concerns.
We can work together for an Ireland where our communities feel not only safer but respected and valued members of society.
Membership of the Coalition Against Hate Crime
The Coalition Against Hate Crime Ireland is comprised of: Age Action Ireland; BeLonG To; Doras; Dr. Lucy Michael (academic researcher); European Centre for the Study of Hate, University of Limerick; Immigrant Council of Ireland; Inclusion Ireland; Independent Living Movement Ireland; Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL); Irish Network Against Racism (INAR); Irish Traveller Movement (ITM); LGBT Ireland; LGBT Travellers; Nasc – Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre; National LGBT Federation; National Traveller Women’s Forum; National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI); Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre; Sports Against Racism Ireland (SARI); Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)
NASC, Pavee Point, and the European Centre for the Study of Hate will appear before the Oireachtas Justice Committee on Wednesday 17th November.