A group of male celebrities including Michael Sheen, Jason Manford and Gary Neville are calling for misogyny to be made a hate crime.
Stella Creasy, Labour and Co-operative Party MP for Walthamstow, is campaigning to ‘include misogyny in our hate crime legislation’, meaning offences motivated by a hatred of women would be treated similarly as those motivated by racism or religious intolerance.
In an open letter to House of Lords members, bearing the names of several famous men, she calls for the Government to accept the ‘Newlove amendment’ to the Policing Bill when it is debated on January 17.
Comedian David Baddiel, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and former Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal OBE all have their names featured on the open letter, which calls for the Government to ‘modernise our hate crime laws’.
Mr Afzal today tweeted a link to the letter, tagging fellow men who signed it and writing: ‘MEN must take responsibility for MALE violence… sign the letter please.’
Current sentencing guidelines specifically name ‘racial or religious’ aspects of higher culpability offences as aggravating factors – meaning if these played a role in the crime the punishment will likely be more severe.
The ‘Newlove amendment’, put forward by Tory life peer and former victims’ commissioner Baroness Newlove, calls for a new clause to be inserted into the bill specifically outlining ‘aggravation of offences on grounds of hostility related to sex or gender’.
A group of male celebrities including Michael Sheen, Jason Manford and Gary Neville are calling for misogyny to be made a hate crime
The names of Michael Sheen (left) and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (right) also appear on the open letter
Ms Creasy’s open letter states: ‘It is right that we already give judges and prosecutors discretion to treat hatred of other protected characteristics as an aggravating factor, but the continuing exclusion of misogyny and misandry from this list risks giving the impression that crimes motivated by hatred of women are somehow less serious than homophobic or racist violence.’
FAMOUS NAMES ON STELLA CREASY’S HATE CRIME LETTER
It adds: ‘Making this simple change would send a powerful symbol about how seriously we as a society take violence against women and girls. It is time to give all women equal protection from being targeted for harm because they are women.
‘Please vote for the Newlove amendment.’
In October last year Boris Johnson brushed off calls to formally recognise misogyny as a hate crime, instead arguing the ‘abundance’ of existing laws should be better enforced rather than new legislation brought in.
The Prime Minister vowed to make domestic violence and rape the ‘number one issue’ he tackles within policing, and said the way police and criminal justice system currently handles violent crimes against women was ‘just not working’.
His comments come amid a brewing national row over women’s safety, with thousands sharing their experiences of feeling unsafe on streets, parks and other public areas in Britain.
The Met Police’s Wayne Couzens, 48, murdered Sarah Everard after using Covid laws to stage a fake arrest and kidnap the 33-year-old as she walked along a street in Clapham in March. The disgraced officer was given a life sentence at the Old Bailey.
Mr Johnson added the ‘anger over Ms Everard’s murder is a symptom’ of a ‘wider frustration that people feel’.
Asked if he believed misogyny should be a hate crime, Mr Johnson told BBC Breakfast: ‘I think that what we should do is prosecute people for the crimes we have on the statute book.
‘That is what I am focused on. To be perfectly honest, if you widen the scope of what you ask the police to do, you will just increase the problem.
‘What you need to do is get the police to focus on the very real crimes, the very real feeling of injustice and betrayal that many people feel.’
IN FULL: STELLA CREASY’S OPEN LETTER CALLING FOR MISOGYNY TO BECOME A HATE CRIME
Stella Creasy, Labour and Co-operative Party MP for Walthamstow
We support the call to include misogyny in our hate crime legislation to help identify and hold to account those who target, abuse and harass women simply for who they are – it is time to stop expecting women to find ways to tackle male violence, and start asking how we can stop it from happening in the first place. Please join us adding your name to this open letter to members of the House of Lords for the Government to accept the Newlove amendment to the Policing Bill when it is debated on Monday 17th January 2022.
Dear Members of the House of Lords,
We are writing to you to urge you to support the Newlove amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which would modernise our hate crime laws and ensure that crimes motivated by the sex or gender of the victim are treated as hate crimes.
The events of the last year have shown the urgent need for work to be done both to tackle violence against women and girls, and assure the public that the police are treating this violence with the seriousness it warrants. With only a third of women currently saying they report the crimes they experience, it is vital to reform the way in which both our courts and our police approach violence against women and girls.
Nearly a year ago the Government pledged to rollout the recording of crimes motivated by hatred of sex to all police forces in England and Wales by the autumn of 2021, but as yet this has not happened. So too at present our criminal justice system does not have the capacity to recognise the seriousness of violence motivated by a hatred of someone’s sex or gender. It is right that we already give judges and prosecutors discretion to treat hatred of other protected characteristics as an aggravating factor, but the continuing exclusion of misogyny and misandry from this list risks giving the impression that crimes motivated by hatred of women are somehow less serious than homophobic or racist violence.
This amendment is a practical opportunity to learn from policing best practice in recognising how misogyny drives crime and ensure our courts can act as well. It also reflects the work of the Law Commission on hate crime and violence against women which urged caution to ensure serious sexual violence and domestic abuse sentences were protected. Passing this amendment would enable us to be confident crimes motivated by hatred of someone’s sex or gender will be treated with the same seriousness that racist, homophobic or ableist crimes receive by the police – and our courts to use aggravated sentences for such crimes where appropriate.
Making this simple change would send a powerful symbol about how seriously we as a society take violence against women and girls. It is time to give all women equal protection from being targeted for harm because they are women. Please vote for the Newlove amendment.