Hate crime against disabled people

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Written By PeterLogan

Founded by a collective of barristers, solicitors, and academic legal experts, PreferLaw began as a conversation over how to bridge the gap between legal professionals and the lay public.





You have been victim to a hate crime or incident if someone is violent towards you or assumes you are disabled.

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Hate incidents against people with disabilities can occur anywhere. Sometimes, you might even know the attacker. Sometimes, hate incidents can be committed by strangers.

What is disability hate?

If the victim or another person believes it was motivated by hostility or prejudice towards disabled people, and there was malice or ill will directed at you, then it is called a disability hate event.

  • This means that you should report any hate incidents you think are occurring.
  • You can be victim to a disability hate incident, even if you aren’t disabled

If someone thinks you are disabled, and acts with malice or ill-will toward you, and displays prejudice about disability, you can become the victim of a disability hatred incident.

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A disability hate incident can also happen if you are associated with someone disabled. For example, someone may target you because you have a child with a disability or care for someone with a disability.

What kind of incidents are considered a disability hate incident?

There are many ways that disability hate incidents can occur, including:

  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Teasing
  • Bullying
  • threatening behaviour
  • Online abuse
  • Texts that are threatening or infuriating
  • Property damage

This could be an isolated incident or part of a larger campaign of intimidation or harassment.

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Sometimes, it could be a neighbor, a carer, or teacher who is the perpetrator of hate incidents. This behavior is not limited to strangers. It can be even more distressing when someone you know acts with malice or ill-will toward you because of your disability.

Is a disability hate incident a crime?

There are no discriminatory hate crimes. If the offender targets or attacks you due to their hostility towards disabled people, any criminal offence could be classified as a disability-hate crime. There must be evidence of malice or ill will towards you due to your disability in the behavior.

A court can impose harsher sentences on someone who is convicted of a disability hate crime if it is deemed a serious offense under the Offences by Aggravation by Prejudice (Scotland), Act 2009.

Keep in mind that even though it is difficult to prove, the crime you suffered, such as a breach or assault, may still be a crime.

What does a disabled person mean?

Section 6 of the Equality Act 2010 defines this definition. You are considered disabled if you:

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  • You have a mental or physical impairment
  • Your impairment can have a significant and lasting adverse effect on your ability daily activities.