UK: LGBTQI+ Lobbyists Have Excessive Influence on Hate Crime Laws, Says Former Judge
A former senior judge has criticised the influence of transgender activist groups over the proposals of hate crime laws by the independent government body the Law Commission.
Charles Wide QC, a former Old Bailey judge, made comments in reference to a consultation by the Law Commission in which the expansion of the law to cover apparent offences against misogyny, age, sex work status, homelessness, membership of an alternative subculture or philosophical belief was considered.
Wide feared that the consultation by the Law Commission - an independent government body assigned to advise and recommend legal reforms to the government - could interfere with the freedom of speech and stifle debate around transgender issues. Wide also noted that the body was committed to a non-political brief, and giving precedence to campaign groups committed to “contentious and controversial sociological theories” would constitute a betrayal of its values.
“Rightly, the interests of those who might be protected are considered in detail but little attention has been paid to those who might suffer, or fear suffering, the consequences of laws being too widely drawn or misused. It should be a matter of real concern if the Law Commission is morphing, at least in part, into an engine of social change, pursuing agendas of its own formulation, having a privileged position close to the heart of government.”
According to the Telegraph, the Commission backed down on one proposal - for comments made in the home to be classified as a hate crime - after facing criticism from pro-free speech organisations. Singling out Stonewall, Wide accused the commission of treating the LGBT non-profit as a “consultant” rather than a “consultee.”
“The consultation paper displays almost no awareness of an elephant in the room, affecting both the substance of the subject and the conduct of the consultation: the apprehension, even fear, which results in self-censorship. For many, the fear of the Twitter storm or a visit by the police, as the result of a politically or personally motivated complaint, is enough to silence them … Views which contest what are presented as orthodoxies were neither sought nor expressed.”
Speaking to The Times, a spokesperson for Stonewall stated:
“The Law Commission’s review of hate crime laws is an important opportunity to review how legislation is protecting our communities from hate crime. We want to see the law reformed so that crimes based on sexual orientation, transgender identity and disability are treated equally to those based on race and faith. This will help improve confidence in the way the criminal justice system deals with LGBTQI+ hate crime.”
A spokesperson for the Law Commission said:
“The Commission has consulted extremely widely, talking to organisations and individuals with a broad range of views. We have received over 2500 responses to the hate crime consultation demonstrating that it has been thorough, open and fair. We are carefully considering these responses which will inform the recommendations that we make in our final report later this year. Hate Crime is a complex and sensitive area of the law and, while the Commission can recommend options for legal reform, it will ultimately be for Government and Parliament to decide which of these recommendations to implement. The Law Commission can only undertake projects following a request from a Government Minister. It has no powers to implement changes it recommends.”