I attended a conference in Dublin about disability hate crime. The conference was arranged by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE. OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organisation.
The conference participants had various impairments and I represented people with intellectual disabilities.
Recognition of and legislation relating to disability hate crime is different in different countries and overall across Europe there is a situation of uncertainty about how to define disability hate crime.
Many incidents that could be classed as hate crime go unrecorded. In the UK they found that once disability hate crime awareness increased, the number of hate crime incident that were recorded grew dramatically. In other countries where people don’t talk about disability hate crime, none or very few cases are reported to the police. We concluded that this is not because hate crime against disabled people does not exist in those countries but because disabled people are not aware they have been subject to a crime or that no one listens or takes them seriously if they do tell someone.
Hate crimes often start with less serious incidents and then escalate and get out of hand. For this reason it is important that the community is familiar with what hate crime is and that an end is put to it at an early stage before it goes too far. It may be graffiti with bad words, cheating someone who does not understand about money, pinching or pulling the hair of someone who cannot defend himself or saying sarcastic things that could be perceived as a joke but has a different meaning. The other participants on the conference were people who can speak for themselves, but for me and others in the same situation it is important to get support from someone who knows you well and knows what’s happening in your life.
At the conference were participants from Greece, Belarus, UK, Denmark, Montenegro, Italy, Norway and several other countries. It was really exciting to be involved in this discussion.
Victor Endom, Association JAG, Sweden