Transgender community seeks hate crime laws

The transgender community has called on the Government to introduce hate-crime legislation.

One person taking part in a survey by the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) reported: “[I’ve received] abusive phone calls making very violent threats and intentions such as, when they see me they will hang me from a tree with a live electric cable.”

A report commissioned by TENI on transphobic hate crime documented 32 hate incidents last year, of which 15 were designated hate crimes. TENI’s chief executive Broden Giambrone said yesterday: “We need our lawmakers and legal institutions to understand the realities of trans peoples’ lives and we need our police services to respect and protect us.

“This must include changes in policy and law and delivery of training to the Garda and PSNI. We’re optimistic that this report will hold a mirror up to Irish society and show us we must be better.”

The STAD: Stop Transphobia and Discrimination Report was the first of its kind in Ireland. A total of 88% of respondents experienced verbal abuse or insults; 28% experienced threats of violence; 19% experienced physical violence; and 6% experienced sexual harassment.

The report also found some respondents had been fired from their jobs.

Less than half of the respondents reported the crimes to the authorities.

Speaking at the launch, Superintendent Karl Heller of the Garda Community Relations Bureau confirmed gardaí were aware of the incidents contained in the report. He said there are 277 dedicated liaison gardaí throughout the country assigned to support the gay and transgender community, but said some people are reluctant to come forward.

“I note in the report that there is a number of reasons why people may not report [crime], they obviously include fear. The can include people who haven’t come out yet or people who feel that the police might not take it seriously.”

“We will take it seriously and we will fully investigate. Sometimes when people come forward they want to feel confident they can also feel safe, so we will do everything in our power to make sure they feel safe as well.”

Jennifer Schweppe, co-director of the Hate and Hostility research group at UL, said Ireland was almost unique in western democracies in not having hate crime legislation.

“The country is coming under pressure from external bodies . . . to introduce legislation which targets hate-motivated violence. The absence of such legislation has led to a situation where we as a society have given ‘permission to hate’.”


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