Hate speech laws “a slippery slope”: Matthew Parris

UK hate crime laws have significant flaws because they will never cover everybody, columnist Matthew Parris has said.

Writing for The Times, Parris highlighted that the list of personal characteristics already protected includes race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity.

Following requests to extend the list of hate crime victims, Parris argues that we shouldn’t just “keep adding to the list of those we can’t offend”.

Amending the law

In September, it was announced that the Law Commission will conduct a review to consider whether misogyny should be added to the existing list of hate crimes.

This was in response to MP Stella Creasy’s call to allow judges to give harsher sentences for crimes deemed to be fuelled by hatred against women.

The review will also look at whether crimes motivated by hatred against men and elderly people would be added to the list.

“The list-process is a slippery slope”, Parris said. “We know there are boundaries but I would despair of capturing them in statute”.

Some left out

He questioned why children, vegans, and the obese, among others, should not be protected by hate crime law.

Parris pointed out that abuse which falls into the specified categories “is likely to be taken more seriously by the police and prosecutors, and taken into account in sentencing”.

The bigger the list of new ‘victims’ the harder it is to leave others out, he concludes.

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