MPs back petition to stop online hate crime against disabled people

MPs want the government to give disabled people protection under new hate crime laws after more than 220,000 people backed a petition.

Reality TV star Katie Price led the petition after she flagged up online abuse about her son Harvey’s disabilities.

ONLINE

Internet trolls had continually attacked the 16-year-old who is partially blind, autistic and has the genetic disorder Prader-Willi syndrome.

An inquiry was launched into the commission, which was closed early due to the 2017 general election.

Now MPs on the Petitions Committee want the government to give disabled people protection online under hate crime laws. The committee called the online comments degrading and dehumanising.

RECOMMENDATION

A list of recommendations were published this morning (Tuesday 22 January) after disabled people were consulted. The committee heard that such online abuse had ruined careers, social lives and had a lasting impact on health.

The recommendations include giving disabled people the same protection under hate crimes laws as those who suffer abuse due to race or religion and social media giants are being called on to accept responsibility over abuse.

  • There is a call for social media companies to directly consult disabled people on digital strategy and hate crime law
  • A review of the experience of disabled people reporting and giving evidence of hate crimes
  • The government to recognise the way disabled people are often marginalised offline playing a part in online abuse
  • Better representation of disabled people in government advertising
  • A review of the law surrounding exploitation in friendships and relationships

OFFENCE

MPs also said a similar check used for child sex offenders should make it possible to check if someone has been convicted of a hate crime before employing them.

Katie Price’s petition had called on the government to make online abuse a specific criminal offence and create a register of offenders. It noted that it affected people from every walk of life and included racism, homophobia, body shaming and other hate speech.

Number 10 has hinted this morning (Tuesday 22 January) that Prime Minister Theresa May could back the new rules after her spokesperson said broad action is taking place to address the issue.

A full list of the recommendations can be found here.

Have you experienced online hate crime? Tell us about your experiences on Twitter or Instagram to start a discussion.