WHY Hate crime legislation?

Love Not Hate Campaign for hate crime legislation

We are calling for the government to enact hate crime legislation immediately, to offer the best protection to people from affected groups in Ireland. We want to help break the silence on hate crime, encourage people to report racist and other bias-motivated violations, and to find effective ways to address them.

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“Better engagement with impacted communities paramount as hate crime and extreme hate speech legislation advances at the Oireachtas”

On 27th of October 2022, INAR together with its sister organisations in the Coalition Against Hate Crime issued a Press Release welcoming the advancement of hate crime legislation.

The coalition reiterated that while hate crime legislation is an important step, we need a national action plan to ensure the legislation is impactful. 

You can download the full press release below.

What is hate crime?

INAR’s definition of hate crime (based on OSCE definition):

hate crime is, typically, a violent crime motivated by prejudice, when a perpetrator targets a victim because of their perceived membership of a certain social group.

Hate crime has two main elements:

1. Criminal Act

Hate crimes are acts which are treated as crimes in criminal law, such as assaults, theft, criminal damage, arson or murder.

2. bias motive

Hate crimes are motivated, at least in part, by hatred of someone’s real or supposed identity or background.

On the 9th October 2019 An Garda Síochána introduced a working definition for hate crime and hate incident: 

Hate Incidents – (Crime)

Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, ‘race’, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.

Hate Incidents – (Non-Crime)

Any non-crime incident which is perceived by any person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.

Explanatory Notes
  • A person, community or institution may be a victim of hate crime by virtue of perceived or actual association with a particular group or background.
  • `Motivation` is presumed by a demonstration or expression of hostility or prejudice.
  • Ethnicity includes ‘Traveller’ and ‘Roma’.
  • Religion includes ‘non-believers’.
  • `Gender` includes gender identity, transgender, intersex, gender expression and gender exploration.
  • An `incident` is an occurrence reported to An Garda Síochána.

Who is targeted by hate crimes in Ireland? 

People targeted by hate-motivated crime in Ireland are usually:

Ethnic minorities

(racist hate crimes)

Religious minorities

(religious hate crimes)

Lesbian, gay, bisexual

(homophobic hate crimes)


(anti-transgender hate crimes)

People with disabilities 

(Disablist hate crimes)

Examples of racist crimes

April 2010: Black youth Toyosi Shittabey (15) was murdered in a knife attack in Tyrrelstown, West Dublin. The attack followed an exchange in which his assailant shouted racial abuse. No one has been convicted in connection with Toyosi’s murder.
May 2013: Vietnamese Irish blogger Úna-Minh Kavanagh was attacked by a group of youths assaulted and spat at. They had shouted racial abuse at her. Úna-Minh called Gardai and later came face-to-face with her assailant, a 14-year old boy.
February 2013: A house assigned to a Traveller family in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, was destroyed in an arson attack. The attack came a short time after local Councillor Sean McEniff objected to the house being built and made comments on local radio arguing that Travellers should be kept away from the settled community and isolated.
St Patrick’s day 2014: Adam Labazanov (19), whose family are refugees from Chechnya, was kidnapped at a fake Garda checkpoint and driven 2 miles. He was stripped naked and stabbed 57 times by his assailants after they discovered he was Muslim. They buried him in sand and leaves before leaving him for dead. No one has been brought to justice for these crimes.
July 2015: “Jane”, a working mother of African origin, was forced to move her young children out of their home in county Dublin looking for safety. The family had been subjected to a 2 year ordeal of racist intimidation, culminating in having the tyres on her car slashed repeatedly and racist graffiti being sprayed on her house. No one has been arrested in relation to the crimes committed against Jane and her young family.


“The legislation is the first step in showing ethnic minority communities that they are protected”.
On 13th of November our Policy Lead Patricia Munatsi and Dr. Lucy Michael were on Ireland AM discussing the urgent need for effective hate crime legislation. You can watch it here.

From 10th February 2023; listen to our Director Shane O’Curry as he discusses how the proposed new legislation differs from the 1989 Incitement to Hatred Act, and why the improved legislation is needed. You can listen to it here.


  • Life Free From Fear Report indicates the need for a legislative change in the area of hate crime in Ireland informed by primary research with non-governmental organisations engaged in supporting communities which are targets of hate crime.
  • The Lifecycle of a Hate Crime: Country Report for Ireland show that Ireland is “seriously deficient” when it comes to addressing hate crime in the state. According to the report, in Ireland, from the point at which a victim reports a crime to An Garda Síochána to the point at which a judge sentences an offender, the hate element of the crime is filtered out of the criminal justice process.
  • Connecting on Hate Crime Data in Ireland. This national report aims to describe the context and current picture of hate crime reporting, recording and data collection in Ireland and to present practical, achievable recommendations for improvement. It is hoped that national stakeholders can build on its findings to progress in this critically important piece of broader efforts to understand and effectively address the painful and stubborn problem of hate crime in Ireland.
  • OSCE/ODHIR Hate Crime Reporting Data 2019 for Ireland.
  • INAR’s Alternative Report on Racial Discrimination in Ireland and CERD Committee findings on Ireland (known as CERD Concluding Observations) include the introduction of hate crime legislation among their key recommendations.
  • Read iReport.ie Reports of Racism in Ireland.

Why do we need hate crime legislation?

To protect minorities

Everyone has a right to live safely and to participate fully, without fear, in all aspects of life. Having hate crime legislation makes a strong statement that we value an inclusive society where crimes committed on the basis of a victim’s identity are not tolerated.

Hate crime legislation works

In other countries, hate crime legislation is effective in bringing people who commit hate crimes to justice, preventing others from committing them and restoring community confidence in the state.

To make the State take racism seriously

In 2014 INAR recorded 137 incidents meeting the criteria for racist hate crime, while An Garda Síochána recorded only 43. Having hate crime legislation in place will help ensure that hate crimes are recorded and taken seriously.

Hate crime hurts more

The psychological impact of hate crime is deeper than regular crime, with the distress and fear lasting longer. Hate crime dehumanises, goes to the heart of a person’s identity, damages dignity and forces people to change their behaviour. Having specific protection in law for victims of hate crime recognises the seriousness and greater damage done by those crimes.

Hate crimes damage community relations

Hate crimes can lead to fear spreading through the community, especially when there is a poor response. People from the same and other minority groups often react as if the same crime has happened to them. Communities can become isolated and torn apart. Ultimately, racist and religious hate crimes can lead to ethnic conflict.

The introduction of hate crime legislation would mean:

The creation of special new categories of aggravated offences:

Everyone has a right to live safely and to participate fully, without fear, in all aspects of life. Having hate crime legislation makes a strong statement that we value an inclusive society where crimes committed on the basis of a victim’s identity are not tolerated.

The provision of enhanced sentencing:

Offenders will get a higher sentence for a crime committed with a bias element against named protected categories such as the following:

Race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, national minority, Travellers and Roma, disability, age, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, residence status, health, sex characteristics and ability to communicate.

Leadership in the criminal justice system

Having hate crime recognised in law provides police and the entire criminal justice system with the clarity they need to recognise, record, communicate and prosecute hate crimes appropriately providing a better support for victims.

The importance of Hate crime legislation

Get involved


If you would like to organise a #LoveNotHate campaign event you can order brochures and badges from our office by emailing comms@inar.ie.
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