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Misogyny to be recognised as a hate crime carried almost unanimously at Lancashire County Council meeting despite ‘friendly amendments’ undermining the motion.
Despite facing criticism from fellow councillors, Lancashire County Councillor, Jean Parr’s motion to recognise misogyny as a hate crime has carried, “almost unanimously” with the addition of ‘friendly amendments’ made by Conservative County Counsellor, Cosima Towneley.
The original motion called for the Chief Executive and Director of Resources to write to the Minister of State for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse MP, with the following requests:
- legislation to make misogyny a hate crime and to be recorded as such,
- police requirement to record all instances of femicide,
- task force to be set up before the end of the year to assess the extent and impact of incel culture,
- all instances of domestic violence to be treated as violent assault or grievous bodily harm and automatically prosecuted without a formal complaint from the victim,
- policing resources to increase and resources also be made available for further studies into the link between abuse and terrorism.
Although Lancaster City Council carried the motion, “completely unscathed,” it failed to satisfy the Lancashire County Council without amendment.
Conservative County Counsellor, Cosima Towneley, began with the trivial dispute of misogyny versus misandry stating, “there is no excuse for misogyny or indeed misandry or gender based sexual harassment or abuse of any sort.” As a result, Towneley called for Government to, “consider defining misogyny and misandry as a hate crime.”
This attempt to universalise abuse, takes the spotlight away from misogyny and inadvertently undermines the motion entirely. When asked for comment, Jean Parr exclaimed that, “equalising misogyny and misandry in the motion is demeaning” and “takes a lot of power out” whilst Counsellor, Erica Lewis called it, “an abomination.”
In support of the ‘amendment’, Conservative County Counsellor, Peter Buckley, noted that, “while misogynistic killings in Lancashire were rare, misogynistic opinions, attitudes and behaviours are not” but work was underway to combat this through the Healthy Relationships Programme – approved for funding in July – and the ‘Safer Streets’ Initiative.
Although, these are both steps in the right direction, to imply “misogynistic killings in Lancaster are rare” whilst Lancashire is ranked the 13th highest for female killings in a list of 42 police forces in the UK is blatant ignorance, not to mention the 22,500 crimes with a domestic abuse indicator flagged by the Lancaster Police this year alone.
The second more serious issue had with the amendments confines in the following: “police forces to include in their Annual Report details of all cases where a person of one sex commits an offence of homicide against a person of another sex and for Government to consider defining misogyny and misandry as a hate crime.”
This amendment fails to distinguish sex from gender, isolates potential hate crime statistics to “an offence of homicide,” and calls for misogyny and misandry to be recognised as a hate crime despite these terms being gender exclusive. In doing so, this commits transphobia, excluding non-binary and transgender people as potential victims of gender-based hate crimes.
“This amendment of the original proposal has steeped what could have been a beneficial movement for Lancashire in out-dated, irrelevant, and unnecessarily exclusive language,” Lancaster University student, Beth Train-Brown informed SCAN during interview.
“By using the binary terms, misogyny and misandry, this motion has been taken from a proposal that could support women exposed to daily hate crime based on their gender and turned it into a scrap of note paper scrawled in arguments, passed bitterly between council members.
“At a time when women are suffering intense misogyny, this bill could have been used specifically to protect them as a gender. With the inclusion of the term ‘misandry’, the bill becomes supposedly ‘universal’ but it’s not.
“By referring solely to ‘misandry’ and ‘misogyny’, two terms describing hatred and discrimination towards specifically men and women, the motion forgets Lancashire’s Trans+ and Non-Binary population. If the amendments want to make this motion no longer protection for women like it was supposed to be in the name of ‘universality’, then why are they forgetting people who identify as neither men nor women, or otherwise outside of the binary?
“As a non-binary journalist reporting openly on gender queer and transgender issues, I have faced incredible discrimination based directly on my gender identity. The impact of erasing our identities in a bill designed to protect us against hate crimes is disgusting and unforgiveable on behalf of our council.
“I expected nothing from Lancashire County Council and I’m still disappointed.”
To propose homicide as an accurate measure of hate crime in the UK will undoubtedly allow a considerable percentage of hate crime to go unrecorded as well as support inadequate measures – not to mention go against protected characteristics.
In response to the amended motion, County Councillor, Jean Parr, has admitted she accepted the amendment on the assumption that her original would not have been supported by the ruling group had she not agreed to the alterations.