The simplest definition of what a hate crime is, is a crime committed against a victim due to his or her perceived role in a social group. Social groups can be defined by many factors such as sexual orientation, race, disability, religion, age, gender and many other factors. Within this essay I aim to evaluate the causes of hate crime and also to assess the impact of crime on victims and the strategies used for responding to hate crime. The types of hate crime I am going to be focusing on are race, sexual orientation and gender. What is hate crime?
Defining hate crime has proven to be a difficult task, shown by the multiple academic and professional definitions that exist. Barbara Perry (2001) suggests that “as is the case with crime in general, it is very difficult to construct an exhaustive definition of ‘hate crime’ that is able to take account of all of its facets”. In order to gain a greater understanding of hate crime I am going to present some of the academic definitions put forward. Gerstenfeld (2004: 9) suggests that “the simplest definition of a hate crime is this: a criminal act which is motivated, at least in part, by the group affiliation of the victim”. Craig (2002: 86) defines hate crime as “an illegal act involving intentional selection of a victim based on a perpetrators bias or prejudice against the actual or perceived status of the victim”. Lastly Barbara Perry (2001: 10) argues that “hate crime involves acts of violence and intimidation, usually directed toward already stigmatised and marginalised groups. As such it is the mechanism of power and oppression, intended to reaffirm the precarious hierarchies that characterise a given social order”. Despite being different all of the above academic definitions outline the same point, that the motivation for a hate crime is a person’s prejudice against a particular group of which is already marginalised within society. Hall (2005) “hate crime is therefore symbolic in that it sends...
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