Are you Protected? An Investigation into the Relationship Between Legislative Protections and Hate Crimes

Elizabet Garcia, Malcolm Odell, and Sierra Tanner

Abstract

Through the research conducted a relationship was found between the legislative protections for minority groups and the resulting hate crime rates. Constitutions of respective countries were analyzed to discover the explicit protections they have for minority groups, then hate crime statistics were utilized to explore the relationship between the two. The importance of this research lies in one of the issues that was run into during the process, that of the lack of reported hate crime data. This lack of data reveals the truth about the importance countries place on hate crime deterrence and the need for better monitoring.

Introduction

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected the interactions between minority groups and those in the majority rise. With this increase comes more opportunity for violent attacks against those who are considered “outsiders” in a country. Xenophobia is on the rise as well due to the massive population migration occurring in many parts of the world. The importance of minority rights protections to accommodate the groups that already exist in these countries as well as those entering it can’t be ignored.

The following will be a discussion of the existing minority rights protections and the subsequent number of hate crimes that occur in each country respectively. Hate crimes have been a prevalent problem in many countries. It is no surprise that the governments of various countries have tried their best to tackle problems head-on and commit to actually making a change in their legislation. But, there are also countries that have done nothing in order to change the outcomes to these situations. The question to ask here is, how do variations of existing legislative protections for minority groups affect the number of acts of violence against these groups?

Nose-Diving into Discrimination

Violence against minorities is not a new concept, all you have to do is take a look at the history of humankind. However, from New Zealand attack to the Ferguson shooting the media today has given us the opportunity to be constantly aware of the violence minority groups deal with every day.

There is a bright side though. There has been immense progress throughout history in protecting minority groups worldwide. Many constitutions, such as that of Greece and Hungary contain protections for minority groups. What’s more, there are different types of legislation, specifically hate crimes, which protect minority groups in different countries.

To begin, we tried to look for previous research about whether or not legislation was effective in decreasing this violence. But, this proved incredibly difficult because when a law is passed, many times we assume it will be effective immediately, whether or not there are holes in enforcement. Secondly, studying hate crimes is hard because some countries do not have the infrastructure to collect reports. Even they do, these statistics are usually under-reported, making it difficult for us to examine.

So, we looked at other causes for violence against minority groups to help narrow the types of legislation we investigated. In one paper we read, a main source of violence was fear, and another it was resentment against minorities due to cultural/identity differences. Oftentimes, this resentment and fear solidifies into brutal hate crimes. The graph below from New America demonstrates this cycle. The graph depicts Anti-Muslim Sentiment in America, which spikes after a terrorist attack perpetrated by Islamic radicals.

Now we must ask, does the type of legislation we have today actually protect the minorities as it is supposed to do?

Case Study: Greece and Turkey

In the case of Greece and Turkey and interesting relationship can be found with the existing legislation and the groups most affected by hate-related attacks. Data collected from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) reveals the groups most affected by hate-related attacks between the years of 2015 and 2017. In this report it is clear that those who identify with a gender/sexual orientation that differs from the norm are most likely to experience a hate-related attack in Turkey. Between the years of 2015 and 2017 224 attacks took place against LGBT members whereas only 10 attacks were motivated by racism/xenophobia and no attacks against Muslim groups took place. When considering the existing legislation in Turkey, we looked at their constitution as this tends to be a primary source that creates the foundation of a nation’s rule of law. Turkey has explicit protections for freedom of religion in their constitution, “Everyone has the freedom of conscience, religious belief, and conviction.” (Article 24: Constitution of Turkey)

Hate Crimes in Brazil and Argentina

Hate crimes are a big factor to this study, often times many instances of violence are through this specific means. Our hypothesis seeks to prove that the more existing legislation for minority groups the less violence that exists. In particular, we broke up sections of the world and discussing  Brazil and Argentina, two very similar South American countries that deal with instances of violent acts on their people. Examining specific case studies about these countries carry a positive or negative correlation in regards to legislation and violence. In order to prove that there is a direct correlation between legislation and violence on marginalized groups, we need to focus on existing legislation in different countries. Aside from this, the biggest issue that comes up is seeing how these two variables correlate. We can definitely see that there are hate crimes that occur to different minority groups in both these countries. But, there is no direct existing legislation that affects these findings. The case studies focused on one specific marginalized group so it was difficult to see how other groups were impacted; they played close attention to the LGBTQA groups. This data was fairly new so we didn’t have much older data then what was just gathered. One of the biggest issues that came up in both Brazil and Argentina was the lack of reporting on crimes such as these ones. No ones step up to report it to the police, therefore our data gathering is inconclusive.

A Case Study Delving into Islamophobia

Another perspective of minority violence is that against Muslims in the United States, the United Kingdom, and India. To uncover any possible relationship between violence against Muslims and legislative differences, we examined the different types of legislation (protecting Muslims from discrimination, giving rights to Muslims, hate crime protections, and hate speech protections), and its possible correlation to violence against Muslim minorities in these countries. Through this we discovered that during years new legislation was passed (regardless of the type), there was less violence reported against them. Moreover, there was a huge distinction between hate crime legislation and hate speech legislation. For example, India had legislative protection against hate speech, but no legislative protection for hate crimes, yet saw an upward trend in violence against Muslims. On the other hand, the United States had protections against hate crimes, but not hate speech, and the overall trend against Muslims has decreased.

Conclusion

One of the first aspects of this research to tackle is what is identified as a hate crime. It is essential that we tackle components such as the this in order to get the public as knowledgeable as possible in order for them to understand our findings. Hate crime is a specific kind of violence in regards to minority groups. There is a concrete difference between regular violence and hate crimes and the case studies also study this behavior. Overall, we came to the realization that the biggest factor affecting all our case studies was the lack of reporting. Whether that is done by the general public or the fact that the own government in some countries covers up factors like these ones. We need to work to bring hate crimes to the scale that they are at.

Research Papers

Garcia, Elizabet. 2019 ” Independent Research Case Study: Brazil & Argentina.” Research Practicum Independent Research Paper. University of Denver. March 8.

Odell, Malcolm. 2019. ” Independent Research Case Study: Greece and Turkey.” Research Practicum Independent Research Paper. University of Denver. March 8.

Tanner, Sierra. 2019. ” A Case Study Analysis on the Relationship between Legislative
Protections for Muslims and Violence Against Muslims in the United States, United Kingdom, and India.” Research Practicum Independent Research Paper. University of Denver. March 8.