What is religious hate crime?Religious hate crimes happen when someone is attacked or threatened because of their religion or their beliefs. Racial and religious hatred crimes might seem very similar, but the police and courts can treat racial crimes differently to religious ones.
Religion and the lawReligious hate crime is not currently recognised as a criminal offence in the same way as racial and homophobic crime.
However, if a crime is committed against someone because of their religion, it can be interpreted as an attack on their race as well and can be treated as a racially aggravated or motivated attack. For example, criminal courts have decided that attacks on Sikhs and Jewish people are racial incidents.
If it's proven that the offender's main motivation was based on prejudice or their hatred of another race, the sentence can be more severe than for the same offence without a racial motivation.
Incitement to religious hatredIt is illegal to say anything or produce any written material which tries to persuade someone to commit a criminal offence against another race or group of people. Any leaflets, flyers or speeches promoting crime against people because of their religion are against the law. This is called incitement to religious hatred.
However, it is not against the law to disagree with or criticise someone because of their religion or their beliefs.
Reporting a religious crimeIf you think you have become a victim of a crime because of your religion, you should report it to the police as soon as possible. Whether the crime is proven to have been committed because of religious prejudice or not, it is still a crime in its own right.
You should also make sure the incident is reported to your local Community Safety Unit. Every police force in the country has one of these units and it's their job to monitor and record the number of hate crimes that are committed in your area. They work within the community to combat the problem.
Religious discrimination at workThe discrimination law means employers must make sure all their employees are treated in the same way as each other, regardless of their religious beliefs.
The Citizens' Advice Bureau can help people take steps if they have a religious discrimination case against their employer. ACAS can also help provide up-to-date information and independent advice to solve problems.
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