New campaign demands action plan against hate crimes in Ireland

The Coalition Against Hate Crimes launched the Hate Crimes Hurt Us All campaign and shared a study showing an increase in hate crime incidents in Ireland.

Posters in the new Hate Crimes Hurt Us All campaign.
Image: Via Twitter - @ivanabacik

Yesterday, September 12, The Coalition Against Hate Crimes (CAHC), formed by several organisations and led by the Irish Council of Civil Liberties (ICCL), launched the new campaign Hate Crimes Hurt Us All to raise awareness about the rising number of incidents of hate crime in Ireland and to demand a specific action plan from the government to tackle the issue.

At the launch of the campaign, several speakers gave their testimonies about the impact that hate crimes have on the lives of many people living in Ireland. As stated by CAHC, hate crimes “aim at silencing entire communities. They not only affect the person subjected to them, the hurt is felt by entire communities, in many cases hundreds of thousands of people who share the same identity. One incident can make an entire community feel targeted and unsafe and that creates a climate of fear.”

During the launch of the campaign, CAHC also presented a new study that gathers data from a survey participated in by over 400 individuals who are members of minority communities in Ireland. It revealed that 43% of them had personally experienced an incident of hate crime and that 70% had heard or read about at least one where the survivor was a member of their community.

CAHC chair Luna Lara Liboni commented: “Effective hate crime legislation sends a message as a society that hate crimes are not tolerated and is an essential element in recognising the additional harms of such crimes”. She explained that a single incident of hate crimes can make an entire community feel unsafe.

“The climate of fear also takes its toll on the mental health of minority communities with 42 per cent feeling anxious and 18 per cent feeling depressed when a hate crime occurs against one member,” commented the organisation. Respondents also reported becoming less social and cancelling plans in response.

One of the people who spoke at the event was artist and filmmaker Pradeep Mahadeshwar, a gay man of colour that moved to Ireland from India in 2011. He was among those who felt the need to become less social in order to protect themselves. “I try not to go out at night. I try not to wear the clothes I would like to wear – I will wear something simple that won’t stand me out in the crowd,” he shared. “They are all the precautions I am taking.”

Pradeep also talked about how his position is particularly difficult because, as a person of colour, he sometimes faces prejudice and hate speech from inside the LGBTQ+ community. “If you are a person of colour with the queer community you [can be targeted] everywhere, even in the most posh areas,” he said.

At the same time, he is not able to find support among his expat community “because people who come to this country [from India] bring their own cultural baggage with them and their own homophobia”.

Earlier this year, Minister of Justice Helen McEntee spoke about the government’s plan to strengthen the hate crimes and hate speech legislation that will be introduced later this year. However, this bill is not enough. The Hate Crimes Hurt Us All campaign aims at appealing for broader measures and a specific action plan from the government to tackle the issue. If you wish to support their stance, you can sign their letter to Minister McEntee here.

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