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Law Commission consultation on including women in hate crime legislation - but they talk about "gender"

(48 Posts)
stumbledin Tue 06-Oct-20 20:38:28

They say:

The Law Commission’s proposals to improve hate crime laws include:
* Adding sex or gender to the protected characteristics.

www.lawcom.gov.uk/reforms-to-hate-crime-laws-to-make-them-fairer-and-to-protect-women-for-the-first-time/

So yet again the law is trying to erase the reality of women's sex based oppression by implying it could just be about "gender".

So depressing that those who you would think would know about the importance of words are being this sloppy. Or more likely just not taking women seriously.

Anyhow if anybody can be bothered to reply to the consultation it is in fact open until December.

OP’s posts: |
FannyCann Tue 06-Oct-20 21:03:08

Funny how they know which sort of women are needed when it comes to producing surrogate babies to order.

Perhaps it is worth pointing out their inconsistency to them. wink

TheFleegleHasLanded Tue 06-Oct-20 21:07:13

Exactly what they did /are trying to do in Scotland, redefine the word ‘woman’ using a new law. So it begins...

OhHolyJesus Tue 06-Oct-20 22:32:58

It makes it very difficult to answer it though as you know answers that question the difference between sex and gender won't be taken seriously.

Does anyone know if a some advice is coming?

Ereshkigalangcleg Tue 06-Oct-20 22:37:45

Exactly what they did /are trying to do in Scotland, redefine the word ‘woman’ using a new law. So it begins...

Indeed.

BetsyM00 Tue 06-Oct-20 22:46:45

The consultation is here: www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/hate-crime/ and I would definitely recommend responding.

From the link in the OP it says the proposal is for "Adding sex or gender to the protected characteristics." so we need to tell them why it should be sex and not gender.

Worth noting that in Scotland, while all the documentation in the run up to the Hate Crime Bill being published said "gender" (and they were clearly using it as a synonymous term with sex) - but the Bill itself actually proposed that "sex" be added. Not immediately, of course, but provision was made for sex to be added at some future date.

The reason given for this was: "The term ‘sex’ is being used within the Hate Crime Bill, as opposed to ‘gender’, in order to remain consistent with the Equality Act 2010."
See this pdf

stumbledin Tue 06-Oct-20 23:27:54

I must admit I haven't read all the background papers, but was so taken aback by the phrase "sex or gender".

But am slightly relieved by comment from BetsyMOO.

If they (our sisters!) in Scotland can make a push back then so can we. (Am always confused by Westminster Parliament but think I am right in saying this consultation is for law in England and Wales.)

OP’s posts: |
SlipperyLizard Tue 06-Oct-20 23:43:13

I think that Hate Crime legislation, while coming from a good place (primarily the Stephen Lawrence enquiry) has been a disaster in practice. I’d like to see it repealed, but if it isn’t then adding sex to the list is the next best option.

The idea that it be extended to sub cultures such as goths is the kind of ludicrous thinking that gets in the Daily Mail and discredits the whole concept. Of course no one should be targeted because they’re a goth, but should that end up as a protected characteristic in law? Will they then demand it is added to the Equality Act? The list of protected characteristics should be able to be clearly defined.

I’ll be responding to the consultation, and encourage others to do the same (whether you agree with me or not!).

ChattyLion Wed 07-Oct-20 01:04:01

OMFG. Fuming at the ignorance and casual sexism here.... misogyny is not about how you identify your bloody ‘gender‘ hmm

It’s about biological SEX. It’s about the hierarchical trap that sexist gender stereotyping places over us because of our sex. Like it or not. Regardless of how we ‘identify’. This is entirely sex-based disadvantage and abuse causing women, in particular, to suffer.

Law Commission define hate crime as acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are.

Hate crime laws in England and Wales have developed in various phases over the past two decades, and the law currently recognises five protected characteristics :

race
religion
sexual orientation
disability
transgender status.

Why would anyone need or want gender instead of sex to be added to that list? Serious question.

So, another consultation to respond to in detail once I have calmed down. Thank you for this thread stumbledin. I am looking forward to refining points over the next few weeks.

I thought the surrogacy consultation discussion was actually a big success (in spite of the Law Commission not engaging with women hmm because women’s groups raises the profile of views on that issue and showed publicly that the Law Commission was not giving the same access to women’s groups as it did to other groups and commercial companies with an interest in surrogacy.

Example from BBC News here where women’s groups worked together, engaging with the media: www.bbc.com/news/health-51148421
‘Surrogacy: Social media advertising plans prompt regulator warning‘

Hopefully the Law commission is doing better on meetings this time around, does anyone know?

Also various columnists wrote excellent opinion pieces about the lack of women involved in that consultation and the issues surrogacy raises for women; Catherine Bennett in the Observer was outstanding: www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/09/who-better-than-men-to-rule-on-delicate-subject-of-surrogacy-law-commission

MN threads on the surrogacy consultation allowed a really important discussion with FannyCann and OhHolyJesus doing fantastic updating work and many posters writing in to respond as well as lots of discussion on other parts of social media so it felt very high profile.

I don’t have an informed view on whether having hate crime laws is better or worse than having no such laws, I would interested to learn more about that when I can. However, having a list of protected characteristics able to apply hate crime legislation which does not include sex- and while sex-based acts which could constitute hate crimes are ubiquitous- women’s and girls’ interests don’t seem well served by biological sex being left off that list.

So now we can see that, despite the Equality Act clearly setting out sex as a protected characteristic, the Law Commission inexplicably appear to view ‘sex/gender‘ as either interchangeable, indistinguishable terms or as alternative options to be selected by consultation- a ludicrously misogynistic Stonelaw-esque position to present, given the starting point that women are in with this... It’s infuriating but makes me even more determined to respond. I will be talking to as many people as I can IRL about this. And I will be writing to my MP on this topic, which is always useful to do to remind them of the difference between sex and gender, since ultimately Parliament will have the vote on whether any of the Law Commission’s drafts become law.smile

ThinEndOfTheWedge Wed 07-Oct-20 07:00:11

Why would anyone need or want gender instead of sex to be added to that list? Serious question.

Very serious question re gender - what does this actually mean in practice? If I get raped whilst wearing a floral dress and makeup, will that be seen as a gender hate crime, but not if I was wearing dungarees and trainers - as I was yesterday?

The fact that in either example I was raped because of my sex (which includes in my case as a petite woman - being weaker than every man - again based on sex) - not relevant??!!!

thinkingaboutLangCleg Wed 07-Oct-20 07:37:33

Sorry to hear you were attacked yesterday, ThinEndOfTheWedge. Are you all right?

It’s disturbing that the Law Commission doesn’t seem to understand what sex and gender mean, or to have noticed the increasing level of aggressive woman-hating that’s now openly expressed.

highame Wed 07-Oct-20 07:50:20

Being very picky here. Misogyny is the term for the hate of women, it is ancient Greek and has never included anything but women. Now adding sex/gender and making it hate in general is definitely muddying the waters and the hate crime legislation becomes a law that has absolutely no meaning and will be used and abused at will. It is bad enough now, it doesn't need any further help but perhaps we get this amendment and see just how bad it becomes

ChattyLion Wed 07-Oct-20 09:01:34

Not picky at all- very good point!

ThinEndOfTheWedge Wed 07-Oct-20 09:09:44

thinking

OMG - no - thank god. Example only re how the Law Commission envisages use of gender in crimes against women - e.g. I was not of the feminine gender yesterday due to my supposed non-gender conforming attire.

I must proof read properly when I am on the train too early in the morning.

Apologies x.

Vermeil Wed 07-Oct-20 09:26:38

I’ve just filled out the consultation document, making sure throughout to emphasis that sex and gender must not be conflated. Women and transmen face violence and abuse because they’re female, transwomen because they’re male. They should absolutely not be lumped in together. I also stated, multiple times, that nobody should be protected by law against feeling insulted or offended.

ChattyLion Wed 07-Oct-20 09:51:14

That was a very helpful thought experiment Thin showing up how bloody dangerous this crap is for women.

Given we already have hate crimes in law and there are no plans we know of for taking those off the books any time soon, a critical part of rolling back institutional/regulatory capture and protecting women will be that only ‘sex’ and not ‘gender’ is added as a result of this. Because the risk of not adding ‘sex‘ is that we continue on with the same lack of legal protections that we currently have. But the risk of adding ‘gender’ well as ‘sex’ or even worse *instead of ‘sex*’, will be ushering a whole new world of shit for women.

Look at the pillorying and harassment of gender critical women for speaking thoughts some people dislike now. If ‘gender’ goes in as a hate crime, you can bet that TRAs will use that to the absolute fullest to pick off women from critiquing gender issues. Making things worse for us individually and collectively as women. (Which is a sex-based, not gender-based category).

So it’s essential for us to respond, I’d say regardless of what we might feel about hate crimes being on the books at all. It’s essential to try to ward off women getting into an even worse position via these proposals, which on the face of it could look all nice and inclusive.

We must respond pointing out the difference between ‘sex’ and ‘gender‘ and showing how women are negatively affected- both when these categories are lumped together, and when ‘sex’ is ignored completely. We will have to balance out the TRAs who will be writing in delighted if ‘gender’ is put up on a legally actionable pedestal, while ‘sex’ is ignored..

I’ve only just noticed that the Law Commission’s words that I pasted in bold in the post above don’t even quote the equality act correctly hmm, despite managing to do so for the other categories covered as hate crimes.

- the Law Commission say that hate crimes covers ‘transgender status’- that’s a widening of the actual brief already. The protected characteristic they mention is ‘gender reassignment’ in the Equality Act. It’s not ‘transgender status’.

Surely ‘transgender status’ is so wide and ambiguous as to be legally meaningless and thus becomes available as legal cover for use by all kinds of people that it wasn’t really meant to protect. Any of us can claim that status for any reason?

It’s the self-ID point all over again. It looks exactly like handing legal tools to misogynists by misrepresenting the Equality Act. Just absolutely no.

Hopefully some lawyers will be along soon to comment on this..

ChattyLion Wed 07-Oct-20 09:52:52

Great work Vermeil
I haven’t even opened the consultation yet, not sure if it would be good for my blood pressure.. grin

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Wed 07-Oct-20 10:50:26

I have had a look at the relevant section and they are asking how the legislation should be framed so it is open to say sex not gender.
I think I will probably highlight the confusion that might result between transgender status and sex or gender leading to mis-recording etc. If they want to cover non-binary etc. then link it to transgender status not sex. It is clear there is a deep seated issue with crime against women that is based on biological sex and I want that reflected.

Vermeil Wed 07-Oct-20 11:22:30

@ChattyLion I had a few minutes this morning, so thought I may as well. Tbh, it’s not too bad, it does give you plenty of scope to let them know your thoughts on the matter, and I think it’s important that they get as many responses as possible pointing out over and over again how sex and gender must not be confused or conflated as it will make for bad law. I think including trans men when talking about hate crimes against females is vital to give your responses weight and fairness, and let’s face it, it’s the truth. You’ll end up repeating yourself a lot, but...🙄

MichelleofzeResistance Wed 07-Oct-20 11:42:31

The sticking point will be whether any govt body has the guts to say "this is specifically for and about biologically female people existing as a group in their own right".

Because that's the real issue. While it's 'kind' to pretend that there isn't this half of the human race identifiable and grouped solely by biological reality, you really might as well not bother legislating.

Because otherwise hate crime against 'women' is just hate crime in general- to what, about what? And in particular would seem likely to become a second set of LGBT+ protection for TW on top of the existing stuff which may be used as a second stick to beat mostly those non-existent female people with, for saying things like 'biological sex exists' and 'single sex spaces are needed' instead of claiming that women are mixed sex these days.

It will deny that this particular form of - well I'm sick of the word 'hate', it's meaningless now. 'Aggravated by personal prejudice based on a specific characteristic' shall we say? Is based on the prejudice in this case being about females and female biology. Not about performing femininity. Which as pp says above is different to TW being policed and receiving prejudice from other males for being perceived as breaching toxic masculinity. Unacceptable and absolutely should be protected, but it's different to the age old prejudice females experience in all walks of life on the basis of biological females being seen as lesser humans/service humans/ secondary to the primary group of males.

And this would also require facing up to that female people can experience this form of prejudice based on the specific characteristic of their biological sex from the voices of the political trans lobby, based on seeing female people as less important than TW, reflected in politics that frame their issues less important, their feelings and needs less important, and the inability to accept or understand that lived experience and the voice of that lived experience is of equal worth and priority as that of a TW. And wishing to represent themselves, to be able to gather and group themselves by the characteristic of sex, and to talk about their specific needs of that characteristic in law and services. And that gender stereotyping is a limiting, offensive thing on that basis, used to keep females subordinated.

Fundamental issue.

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Wed 07-Oct-20 12:48:37

I have been thinking about this further.

Gender is not a well understood concept in the general public nor is there an agreed definition; in fact the term is subject to substantial debate. Sex on the other hand is a scientific term and generally most people do agree that it relates to reproductive function.

Criminal offences have serious consequences for the perpetrators (rightly so) therefore crimes must be clearly defined and comprehensible to the general public. People need to be clear on what is a crime otherwise there is a risk of their rights being breached. Consequently, the offence should be limited to sex as that is the clearest and least ambiguous term.

ChattyLion Wed 07-Oct-20 13:56:31

Just nodding along to everyone’s excellent points made

Vermeil that’s helpful to know there’s at least scope to make sexed-based responses within the remit of the consultation- that’s a lot better than some ‘public consultations‘ i have seen..

highame Wed 07-Oct-20 14:05:19

My issue is that someone will come along and use the the hate crime bill to argue that TWAW and win. It would only take a GRC and something hateful and there ya go.

ChattyLion Wed 07-Oct-20 14:30:07

I’m worried that the Law commission are already not very biological-reality-minded with then heading this thing up with the ‘sex/gender’ idea.. so we don’t seem to have any choice but to argue to them the point for ‘sex’ to be the sole criterion (not ‘gender‘).
And to do that in as great a number, with as high quality of responses as we can (ie showing impacts IRL of using ‘gender‘).
Those running this consultation come over as either woke in a misogynistic way (like a lot of organisations at the moment), or simply male-dominated and ignorant/not very enquiring about effects on women.. hmm so they will need to have it spelt out in responses.

OhHolyJesus Wed 07-Oct-20 14:58:58

Gender is not a well understood concept in the general public

I think is likely that most people think gender refers to sex, on GP forms etc, that's the word used and we all know it refers to Male/Female. The problem is that some take it to mean gender identity which is one thing else entirely. The LC have not made that clear.

I've been pondering hate crime in general over the past few months.

If misogyny was added, rather than sex, wouldn't misandry have to be added too, otherwise it would be discriminating against men? I realise that would be madness as misandry is not comparable to misogyny but if you have one shouldn't you have the other?

If sex was added rather than gender (which I would prefer) wouldn't it be possible to argue that a hate crime has been committed against a TW for both their sex and because of transphobia? Would it also be possible for a hate crime to be recorded as against someone for their gender/gender identity (transphobia), for their sex (misandry) and for their gender expressions (misogyny). In which case could a crime have an aggravated factor x3?

My brain is melting so forgive me if I sound mad. Overall I think hate crime is a nonsense now and I will say so when I fill in the consultation document, though I think it started with good intentions, non one harms someone because of love so all crime that harms is hate crime really, if you consider it in broad terms rather than focusing on the area of possible discrimination.

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