• Can a black person be convicted of crimes that are racist against black people?

  • Can a Jewish person be convicted of crimes that are deemed antisemitic?

To be clear, this question is about criminal conviction, not general anti-discrimination regimes.

7 Answers 7


In the U.S., you can commit hate crimes and/or illegal discrimination against a group that you belong to, although, as a matter of evidence, it is harder to get a jury to believe that you had the requisite intent than it might be otherwise.


There are specific hate-related offences at ss. 318, 319, and 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code. And for all offences, when an offence was motivated by hate, that motivation is an aggravating factor on sentencing (see s. 718.2(a)(i)).

None of these offences or aggravating factors are dependent on the accused not being a member of the target group.

For example, the aggravating sentencing factor only requires "evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, or on any other similar factor."

And for a further example, s. 319(2) makes it an offence to wilfully promote hatred against any identifiable group by making statements. This only requires that the statements made actually promoted hatred of the identifiable group and that the accused held a subjective realization (or wilful blindness) about the likely result of their actions.

  • Does making statements that promote negative stereotypes of a group you're a part of count as "wilfully promoting hatred against any identifiable group by making statements"?
    – nick012000
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 21:18

Can a black person be convicted of crimes that are racist against black people? Can a Jewish person be convicted of crimes that are deemed antisemitic?

If this Wikipedia article is correct, Jewish collaborators with the Nazis could be and have been convicted.

In a less tragic context, I can find no reports of, say, a black employer being accused of discriminating against hiring black workers. But the scenario seems feasible, and opinion might support a conviction. All communities admit the possibility of having traitors in their ranks, and can deal with them harshly,


Several other people have rightly answered that yes, in many jurisdictions, a person can be charged and convicted of a hate crime against members of a group that they're also a member of. To provide an example of what this can look like in practice, at least in a United States context, one example is the 2013 case of Amish beard-cutting attacks in Ohio, where sixteen Amish individuals were charged with hate crimes, with sentences as long as fifteen years in prison in the case of the leader.

Male and female victims, some elderly, were held against their will in their homes while scissors and horse shears were used to cut their hair and beards. Head and facial hair is religiously symbolic to the Amish—some of the male victims had been growing their beards for decades.

“These crimes were definitely religiously motivated,” said Michael Sirohman, the special agent in our Cleveland Field Office who investigated the case. Mullet and his Bergholz followers practiced a different kind of religion than other Amish communities, and Mullet believed those other communities were against him and were interfering with his authority. That was the underlying reason for the attacks, Sirohman said.

  • 1
    +1 for the leader of the hair-cutters being called "Mullet". Nominative determinism in action.
    – Skrrp
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 15:02

Patrol 36 was a neo-Nazi organization in Israel, its members (Jews of Russian origin) were convicted of racial incitement and related crimes and got quite steep sentences.


The question has already been answered in terms of the letter of the law.

But trivially, for the spirit of the law to work, it must be legally possible for group-members to offend against their group, or there'd be no way to press charges for a hate-crime against any non-provable trait without the perp using the defense argument of "actually, I'm a closeted [gay/trans/christian] myself, so I can't be accused of bigotry against them!"

In reality the opposite seems frequently to be the case, where those who attack identity-groups most vigorously are later found to be closeted members of those groups. "Every accusation a confession" and all that.

  • Seem to be getting uncommented downvotes, but I think the point I'm making here remains important and relevant: group members being just as guilty as outsiders is an obvious necessary prerequisite for any such law to be enforceable. Without that, the law becomes a paper tiger. Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 2:13

Obviously as a black person, being black is not your choice. As a wheelchair user, having to use a wheelchair is not a choice. In some religions, being a member of that religion may come from your parents and not your choice.

And it’s absolutely possible that you hate members of a group to which you belong not out of choice. Even if you belong to a group by choice, it is possible to hate members of that group. So hate crimes against a group that you belong to are absolutely possible.

  • 11
    The Question is not about the possibility of comitting a specific bad action, humans are pretty much able in this regard. The Q is about the possibility of being prosecuted and convicted in exactly the formulated manner.
    – fraxinus
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 8:09

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