Hate Crime Bill 2020 enters second stage of Seanad

During a Seanad debate on introducing the Hate Crime Bill 2020, numerous senators addressed its necessity and called for forward action.

An older man in a suit makes a speech

A proposed Hate Crime Bill 2020 has entered the second stage of the Seanad as senators address the long overdue need for this law. 

On November 17, Senator Fiona O’Loughlin brought forward a Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2020 before the Seanad. The proposed legislation seeks to make provisions for hate crime and implement a heavier penalty for those found guilty of inciting hatred based on discrimination. 

O’Loughlin wrote on Twitter, “The Hate Crime Bill I bring before the Seanad this evening represents an important step forward in the pursuit of equality and justice for all of our citizens. Glad to do it on Standup 2020 week which reminds us all to take a stand against homophobic and transphobic bullying.”

“Victims are looking for change now. We must show them that change through our actions, not our words. Every person has an equal right to be protected by the criminal justice system. Stopping hate crime and bringing perpetrators to justice must be a priority,” O’Loughlin further wrote. 

During the Seanad debate on introducing the Hate Crime Bill 2020 into legislation, various Senators addressed that this law was long overdue. Independent member David Norris recounted his own experiences of homophobic violence as well as those who were murdered due to their sexuality in a powerful acknowledgment of the Bill’s importance. 

On Twitter, the national LGBTQ+ organisation NXF wrote, “We welcome Fiona O’Loughlin bringing her Hate Crime Bill before the Seanad this evening and that the vast majority of Senators who spoke strongly agree that the need for robust legislation in this area is long overdue. Victims of Hate Crime certainly know that.”

The introduction of a Hate Crime Bill in Ireland has been a pressing concern for numerous communities throughout the years. In 2019, Senator Fintan Warfield called on the Seanad for forward action on implementing robust laws following a vicious attack on a gay Brazilian man in Dublin

Speaking in the Seanad, Warfield stated, “These attacks are still common. My own experiences are similar, and I have raised similar attacks in this chamber. They often go unreported, but in this case, he had to go to Kilmainham Garda Station himself to make a statement.”

“I have called numerous times in this chamber for robust hate crime legislation, yet for some reason, the Department of Justice are sitting on their hands this term despite it being the number one priority in the LGBT community,” Warfield further shared. 

Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese has also voiced her support for “fresh momentum” in tackling ongoing issues regarding LGBTQ+ education and the absence of a Hate Crime Bill to protect against discrimination. In May 2020, she reflected on five years since the historic marriage referendum while also addressing much needed actions towards widespread equality. 

In the article, McAleese stated, “Five years later we are entitled to look back at that watershed moment with a sense of national pride. It was, however, a start not a finish line, and we now need to galvanise fresh momentum to bring about an end to the continuing suffering of the LGBT+ community and especially of its younger members.”

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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