TILES Director and Convener of the Australian Hate Crime Network, Professor Nicole Asquith was interviewed on ABC’s Radio National on Wednesday 4 May about hate crimes. In light of the prosecution for the murder of Scott Johnson, Nicole spoke to radio presenter Andy Park about the nature of hate crimes.
Although Scott Johnson’s murder was not sentenced as a hate crime, Nicole stated that it has become what she and her colleague Ryan Thorneycroft have called a “figurehead hate crime”. Unlike the US and the UK, there has not been a case of targeted violence in Australia that has come to the attention of the Australian public in the way major cases have done so in other jurisdictions.
The death of Scott Johnson, the advocacy of his family and the Sydney LGBTIQ+ community, and the publicity around coronial and police investigations has increased the public’s knowledge of hate violence.
Nicole noted that hate crimes are rarely prosecuted, let alone reported due to numerous barriers, such as individuals not recognising the events as hate crimes, not wanting to out themselves in order to report their victimisation to the police, or being part of communities that have historically tense relationships with police, such as First Nations Peoples and LGBTIQ+ people.
Apart from Western Australia, other jurisdictions in Australia do not have standalone hate crime laws. The harms created by this type of violence are usually regarded in sentencing as an aggravating factor to the main offence (whether that is assault, manslaughter, rape, or even, criminal damage).
The Australian Hate Crime Network (AHCN) is a partnership between academics, marginalised communities’ representatives, and relevant government organisations. The AHCN works to develop priorities and outcomes that address and prevent hate crime and hate incidents in Australia.
The full interview is available at this link.