Trans groups have 'too much say' on hate crime laws, former judge says
Transgender groups have ‘too much say’ on hate crime laws and consultation on expanding them risks being ‘unbalanced’, former Old Bailey judge says
- The Government is considering expanding list of groups affected by hate crimes
- Law Commission consulting on including misogyny, age, and sex workers
- Former Old Bailey judge Charles Wide says transgender groups have ‘too much say’ over hate crime laws
- Singled out Stonewall for debate over whether gender is a social construct
A former top judge has claimed transgender groups are having too much say over hate crime laws that could cause freedom of speech to ‘suffer’.
Charles Wide, a retired Old Bailey judge, has said only an ‘limited range’ of views was being sought out to advise on a possible expansion of legislation.
The government currently looking at expanding hate crimes, and the Law Commission is consulting on whether misogyny, age, sex workers, homelessness, and some subcultures should become protected groups.
But the judge fears the Commission’s over reliance on certain campaign groups has seen it move away from its non-political brief to draw on ‘contentious and controversial sociological theories’.
Charles Wide, a retired Old Bailey judge, has said only an ‘limited range’ of views was being sought out to advise on a possible expansion of legislation
Writing for the think tank Policy Exchange, he said: ‘No adequate thought seems to have been given to the difficulty of reaching beyond a limited range of academics and organisations to the full variety of academic voices, organisations, commentators and members of the public who have no organisation to speak for them.’
He singled out LGBT campaigners Stonewall, saying the Commission was treating them more like ‘a consultant than consultee’.
‘Views which contest what are presented as orthodoxies were neither sought nor expressed.’
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Commission has already backed down on one proposal for offensive family dinner table comments to be classified as a hate crime.
The judge fears the Law Commission’s over reliance on certain campaign groups such as Stonewall has seen it move away from its non-political brief to draw on ‘contentious and controversial sociological theories
But Judge Wide also shared his fears that a lack of balanced consulting could lead to an impact on free speech for those who might want to challenge current positions on gender or race.
‘Rightly, the interests of those who might be protected are considered in detail but little attention has been paid to those who might suffer, or fear suffering, the consequences of laws being too widely drawn or misused,’ he added.
He suggested that the ‘fear of a Twitter storm or a visit by the police’ because of stricter rules could soon be ‘enough to silence’ anyone from challenging orthodoxies.
‘It should be a matter of real concern if the Law Commission is morphing, at least in part, into an engine of social change, pursuing agendas of its own formulation, having a privileged position close to the heart of Government,’ he said.
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