Trans person shares personal experience of reporting a hate crime in Ireland

One person walks us through the process of reporting a hate crime based on their personal experience.

Photo of exterior of garda building representing process of reporting a hate crime in Ireland
Image: Photo by Lauren Boswell

Hate crimes are criminal incidents motivated by prejudice based on the victim’s perceived race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, political opinion, or disability. In 2022, hate crimes based on sexual orientation were the second highest percentage of discriminatory crimes reported, following race. If you are in the position of needing to report a hate crime, it helps to know what to expect and what your rights are.

For example, there is an online hate crime reporting tool where anyone can report an incident to the Gardaí without having to go into the station. If you choose to report a hate crime to a Garda Station, you can request a specially trained Diversity Officer who can assist you through the process. When you make a statement and during any subsequent interviews, you have the right to bring a person with you for support.

GCN spoke with Dee, who walked us through the process of reporting a hate crime based on their personal experience as a transgender person who was targeted in an incident.

From a previous assault, I knew the first thing I needed to do was establish which station had jurisdiction, so I started with a phone call to Pearse Street. It took a few attempts to get through, but a very helpful Garda confirmed I had the correct station. I was told that I had to make a statement in person, but I could come in at any time.

On a Sunday night, I sat in Pearse Street beside an out-of-it drunk person who woke up, tried to tap me for money, and then nodded off again. After 10 minutes, the service hatch opened so I could explain to the Garda why I was there.

A Garda officer briefly explained that she was happy to take my statement but to be aware that any decisions on prosecutions would be made later. I was asked to consider whether I would be willing to follow through in court if charges were laid. I confirmed that I would, and I was asked to wait while she found a room.

Garda Mary took me to a private interview room and explained the process to me in detail. This included being advised that false statements can have serious consequences, that in the event of a suspect being found, prosecution would depend on available evidence, and that I would need to be willing to follow through in court.

She also told me that all statements had to be handwritten by a Garda, as laptops, dictation apps, and recording devices are not yet legally permitted. She assured me that I could take my time, that it’s difficult to recall details exactly, and that recollections can change even after statements are completed. There would be no problem coming back later and correcting my statement.

I wanted to file a report because I had been followed and seriously harassed three times within 24 hours, with the third incident becoming physical, thankfully without any injury. The first thing that surprised me, although I probably should have known, is that neither of the first two prolonged harassment incidents were classified as legal offences.

The incidents were scary, but because they never touched me and it was a one-time stalking, they could only be noted as incidents that might eventually count toward policing reviews. However, the third person crossed the line into what would be classified as a sexual assault, so the statement would be limited to that incident alone.

Mary was incredibly kind and patient as she laboriously wrote down all the details, including the times, actions, descriptions, and places. She was very specific in noting my movements and precisely what had happened. She periodically read the statement back to me while reiterating how important it was to be as truthful and accurate as possible. She also reassured me that I could correct it later if any revisions occurred to me.

I can’t commend her enough for her patience and empathy while establishing the physical details of what happened. I was emotional for that but she helped me feel I wasn’t making something out of nothing.

I thought it was all crystal clear in my memory less than 24 hours after the event, but I still struggled to recall things precisely, like which side of the street I had been on. So taking a few notes immediately after an incident can be incredibly valuable.

Mary made a list of the businesses I would have passed that potentially had CCTV video. She also asked me for a description of what I had been wearing, and I was able to email her a photo from the night to help with CCTV tracing.

For people in the LGBTQ+ community, privacy is a huge concern, but Mary assured me that for the purposes of the statement and investigations, I could use the name I go by, and I did not need to concern myself with birth certs, driving licenses, or other forms of official proof of ID.

She was really reassuring and encouraging and after reading the full report back to me, she provided me with a card including the station number, her email, and an incident number. She assured me that she would follow up with an update.

The whole reporting process took about 90 minutes from when I walked into the station. I was treated with respect and empathy and was afforded all the patience and privacy I could have wanted. I left feeling heard, justified and also relieved that my experience may help prevent someone else from suffering a more serious assault in the future.

I considered the possibility that I might have to give evidence in court and resolved I would be willing to give evidence.

Ultimately, Mary could not find useful CCTV from the local businesses so there was no possible ID of my assailant, but she assured me my statement and his description would be on file in case someone matching it was involved in anything similar in the future.

Despite the recent increase in violence against LGBTQ+ people and other marginalised people, Ireland remains one of the few European countries that does not have an appropriate hate crime law in place. The bill, known formally as the Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill 2022, was originally drafted under Varadkar’s government but has yet to be signed into law.

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