Across the common law world, legislation which has the aim of combating hate crime has become a familiar part of the criminal code. The purpose of this research is to explore options for stautory frameworks, and in an Irish context, legislative reform, in this context. Utilising a socio-legal methodology informed by doctrinal and comparative approaches, the research to date has explored the policy and practice consequences of the absence of legislation in Ireland, through the Out of the Shadows and Lifecycle of a Hate Crime: Country Report for Ireland reports.
The next phase of the research, which is currently underway, considers the core considerations for legislation against hate crime. First, what form should such legislation take? Across the United Kingdom, three different approaches are taken to this question, and each is considerd. The second element to such legislation asks, how is the hate element to be injected into the offence, or defined in its aggravating element. Three possible models are explored here.The most contentious political issue in determining hate crime legislation tends to be the range of victims groups protected by the legislation. The research considers which groups should be protected by hate crime legislation, looking at both theoretical understandings and examples from practice in this regard.
Informing all aspects of the research are core considerations of due process and human rights, considering thus both the rights of the victims (particularly under the EU Victim's Directive and those rights emanting from the decisions of the European Courts of Human Rights) but also the rights of the defendant to a trial in due course of law.
The project has been funded by a number of sources, including the European Commission and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.