The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people against discrimination, harassment or victimisation based on nine "protected characteristics":

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

The Public Order Act 1986 (as amended by the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006) introduced a set of "aggravated" versions of existing public order offences, as well, if I'm not mistaken, as creating some completely new offences of its own, such as "stirring religious hatred".

The 1986 Act is only concerned with the characteristics of race and religion, but are there any laws that make it more of a crime to knowingly hit a disabled or gay person than to hit an able or straight one?

  • 3
    Can you please provide a title which summarise the question.
    – user438383
    Oct 21, 2022 at 16:00
  • FYI - in the US one of the hate crime statutes says "because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin. " - my emphasis. Hate is not uniquely determined by an actual characteristic the victim but what the perpetrator thought. Oct 22, 2022 at 1:07
  • Yes agreed George, and I think that's true in other jurisdictions as well, but I also think that's an entirely separate and unrelated aspect of the laws to the question. Oct 22, 2022 at 9:23

1 Answer 1


Are there any laws that make it more of a crime to knowingly hit a disabled or gay person than to hit an able/straight one?


But, the victim's charastistics (among other things) will be taken in to account when determining the defendant's culpability at sentencing.

The Sentencing Council offers this definition for High Culpability for common assault.

Victim obviously vulnerable due to age, personal characteristics or circumstances

The are also statutory "hostility" aggravating factors that increase the seriousness, and therefore affect the court's sentence, at section 66 Sentencing Act 2020:

66 Hostility

(1)This section applies where a court is considering the seriousness of an offence which is aggravated by—

  • (a)racial hostility,

  • (b)religious hostility,

  • (c)hostility related to disability,

  • (d)hostility related to sexual orientation, or

  • (e)hostility related to transgender identity.

This is subject to subsection (3).

(2)The court—

  • (a)must treat the fact that the offence is aggravated by hostility of any of those types as an aggravating factor, and

  • (b)must state in open court that the offence is so aggravated.

(3)So far as it relates to racial and religious hostility, this section does not apply in relation to an offence under sections 29 to 32 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (racially or religiously aggravated offences).

(4)For the purposes of this section, an offence is aggravated by hostility of one of the kinds mentioned in subsection (1) if—

  • (a)at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrated towards the victim of the offence hostility based on—

(i)the victim's membership (or presumed membership) of a racial group,

(ii)the victim's membership (or presumed membership) of a religious group,

(iii)a disability (or presumed disability) of the victim,

(iv)the sexual orientation (or presumed sexual orientation) of the victim, or (as the case may be)

(v)the victim being (or being presumed to be) transgender, or

  • (b)the offence was motivated (wholly or partly) by—

(i)hostility towards members of a racial group based on their membership of that group,

(ii)hostility towards members of a religious group based on their membership of that group,

(iii)hostility towards persons who have a disability or a particular disability,

(iv)hostility towards persons who are of a particular sexual orientation, or (as the case may be)

(v)hostility towards persons who are transgender.

(5)For the purposes of paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (4), it is immaterial whether or not the offender's hostility is also based, to any extent, on any other factor not mentioned in that paragraph.

(6)In this section—

  • (a)references to a racial group are to a group of persons defined by reference to race, colour, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins;

  • (b)references to a religious group are to a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief;

  • (c)“membership” in relation to a racial or religious group, includes association with members of that group;

  • (d)“disability” means any physical or mental impairment;

  • (e)references to being transgender include references to being transsexual, or undergoing, proposing to undergo or having undergone a process or part of a process of gender reassignment;

  • (f)“presumed” means presumed by the offender.

And, for completeness, as well as the Public Order Act 1986 cited in the OP, further racially or religiously aggravated offences msy be found in Part II Crime and Disorder Act 1998.


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