Labour pledges ‘vital changes’ to hate crime laws and more to make UK fairer for LGBT+ people

Labour's shadow secretary of state for women and equalities Anneliese Dodds

Labour’s Anneliese Dodds has pledged to no longer allow those guilty of anti-LGBT+ hate crimes to “dodge longer sentences”.

Dodds, who was appointed shadow secretary of state for women and equalities in September, accused the Conservative Party of “sitting on their hands as usual” when it comes to tough sentences for hates crimes based on sexuality and gender identity, as well as disability.

UK law recognises hate crimes based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity, and sentencing can be “enhanced” for a crime motivated by any of those characteristics, but the hate motivation behind the crime may not be on the offender’s record.

However, only racial or religious hate crimes can be upgraded to “aggravated offences”, special versions of certain criminal offences with higher sentences. 

According to The Independent, On Trans Day of Remembrance (20 November), Dodds said: “All victims of hate crime have a right to expect equal treatment under the law, but that’s not the case today.

“Labour will fix this injustice by bringing in tougher, fairer hate crime laws so that every category of hate crime is treated as an aggravated offence – and those who commit hate crimes against LGBT+ and disabled people can no longer get away with softer sentences.

“The Conservatives could have done this years ago, but they’ve sat on their hands as usual.

“There is little wonder that former members of their now defunct LGBT+ advisory panel have accused ministers of creating a hostile environment for LGBT+ people.”

Dodds said that her party “recognises that trans rights are human rights”, and pledged: “We would update the Gender Recognition Act to enable a process of self-identification while continuing to support the implementation of the Equality Act, including the single-sex exemption.

“We would ban conversion therapies outright immediately.

“And we would introduce these vital changes to hate crime laws that we’re announcing today.”

It has been eight years since the Law Commission produced a report recommending applying to concept of aggravated offences to hate crimes based on sexuality, gender identity and disability.

It found that extending aggravated offences would have a myriad of benefits, including “equality of treatment across the five protected hate crime characteristics” and more detailed offender histories which could help to address repeat offending. 

It did not receive a response from the government.