United States and United Kingdom

‘Matthew Wayne Shepard was an American student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming in October 1998. [...] During the trial it was widely reported that Shepard was targeted because he was gay. Shepard's murder brought national and international attention to hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.’

In the US, the term ‘hate crime’ was coined in the context of the civil rights movement in the 1980s. The movement supported equal rights for African-Americans and the goal of overcoming racism. The term itself was politically suitable for publicly denouncing discrimination and violence against segments of the population.

The Hate Crime Statistics Act has regulated the collection of statistics on hate-motivated crimes since 1990. It differentiates between crime motives relating to ethnicity, religion, disability and sexual orientation.

In 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed, thereby raising penalties for hate-motivated crimes. In 2009, the law was expanded by the Matthew Shepard Act, thus incorporating gender and gender identity as identifying characteristics for hate-motivated crimes.

In the United Kingdom, the recommendations of the Macpherson inquiry into the racially motivated murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 had a profound effect on the development of hate-crime legislation. You can read about the implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations in the UK in BUG’s dossier ‘Police investigation of racially motivated crimes’. In 1998, the Crime and Disorder Act was passed. This law raises the penalties for crimes motivated by prejudice and hatred towards members of ethnic and religious minorities. It was expanded by the Criminal Justice Act in 2003, which further compels judicial institutions to punish hate crimes against persons with disabilities, as well as those committed because of the victim’s (actual or supposed) sexual orientation.

© Büro zur Umsetzung von Gleichbehandlung e.V. 2011