National AIDS Trust comments on the Law Commission's Hate Crime Review
Yusef Azad, Director of Policy and Campaigns from (NAT) National AIDS Trust said: "Hate crime is an issue for people with HIV – it may be rare but we hear of vicious disclosure of someone’s HIV status on social media, or vandalism and graffiti against someone’s property, or verbal or physical assault simply because someone is living with this condition.
"We welcome the Law Commission’s review of the issue, and especially the recommendations for better recording of the enhanced sentencing process for those found guilty of hate crime. People with HIV, police, prosecutors and judges need to know that HIV hate crime is an example of disability hate crime, and work together to ensure such motivation is severely punished.
"We also welcome the clear message that it is unacceptable for some people to be protected by ‘aggravated offences’ legislation and others not – we call on the Government to act on the Law Commission’s recommendation and review the aggravated offences legislation as a first step to real equality in hate crime protection.
"But it is as important for society to deal with the HIV stigma which is still far too pervasive and which is the root cause of such extreme behaviour. NAT is calling on the Government and public bodies to implement the Law Commission’s recommendations as soon as possible – but to add to any action on HIV hate crime, action also on HIV stigma. We should not deal just with the symptoms but with the root causes of such hatred."