Source: LBC 9 May 2023. A story appears about a Starbucks worker being fired following a misgendering incident. The employee, thought to be the manager of the branch in Southampton, Hampshire, accused a customer of misgendering and, having become enraged, then allegedly assaulted the customer’s friend / partner who was filming the incident. The employee then made a police complaint alleging a Hate Crime.

I have included the LBC article HERE as it contains the video clip in case you haven’t seen it.


This story caught my eye not for the obvious reasons but because of the employee’s allegation to police, stating the misgendering was a Hate Crime. As easy as it would be to write something about the obvious talking points in this incident, it is the Hate Crime aspect I wanted to mention.

The term ‘hate crime’ is becoming prevalent and I have noticed a tendency by people and the media to say ‘hate crime’ as if it were an offence in itself, in the same way you would say ‘burglary’ or ‘assault’. Its really important to remember that Hate Crime is a term, or a category. It is not the name of a specific offence.

What does the law say? What is a Hate Crime?

To be clear, it is a CRIME that is aggravated by ‘hate’ or more specifically, as outlined on the Crown Prosecution Service website:

Any crime can be prosecuted as a hate crime if the offender has either:

  • demonstrated hostility based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity OR
  • been motivated by hostility based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity

These crimes are covered by legislation (Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and section 66 of the Sentencing Act 2020) which allows prosecutors to apply for an uplift in sentence for those convicted of a hate crime.

Picture of the Scales of Justice

What’s the offence?

The point is for anything to be a hate crime, firstly an actual CRIME needs to have been committed. The ‘hate’ comes into play only as an aggravating factor unless the ‘hate’ is part of the specific offence as in the case of ‘Incitement to racial hatred’. The aggravating factor is then taken into consideration when determining sentencing in accordance with the appropriate Sentencing Guidelines.

As an example, if you were to assault someone and just before you assaulted them, you said “I’m going to hit you now and its because I don’t like gay people”, that would be a CRIME of ASSAULT. It would then be recorded as a Hate Crime because the evidence shows a clear link between the crime that was committed and the perpetrator’s hatred or dislike of someone based on their protected characteristic.

The rise of ‘Hate Crimes’

Where no criminal offence occurs, an event can be classed as a hate INCIDENT. An example would be if you were to get into an argument with someone about queue jumping and they perceived that the argument happened only because you didn’t like the fact they were, or you thought they were, gay / transgender / female / male / different ethnicity (delete as appropriate).

Having, or even starting an argument, is not a criminal offence in itself. So, even if the hate is perceived by them, it would not be a Hate Crime. Additionally, even if you had said to them, “You only pushed in front of me because you’re gay and you think you’re special”, it would still not be a Hate CRIME because having an argument or dispute is not in itself a CRIME. There has to be the foundational criminal element.

However, in that case, it may be recorded as a Hate Incident.

I know, I know……………………….

Now, I can hear some of you shouting out about the Public Order Act here. I will be writing more about the Public Order Act (POA) and how it is used / misused in the future. Some would make a case for using the POA here and that’s fine – whatever you can justify in court. I am merely using this as an example to illustrate the point.

But we will definitely be getting to the Public Order Act in future blogs. So, if you feel strongly, please keep visiting this site. I will soon be offering subscriptions and you can see everything I have to say about that particular piece of legislation.

In the meantime, please feel free to comment below.


Police have to record all crimes THAT ARE RECORDABLE under the Home Office Counting Rules. Some criminal offences do not need to have a crime report raised but where one is and hate was judged to be an aggravating factor, it would also be shown as a hate crime. This allows the crime to be prioritised and then counted for crime statistics.

Police forces, and the College of Policing, have been roundly criticised recently for over-recording hate incidents. Hate incidents only required the perceptions of the victim. No actual evidence, verbal or otherwise was needed to confirm the alleged hate. The College wanted police forces to record these evidentially-poor incidents along with the names and details of the ‘suspects’ but this has rightly been railed against. Now, there needs to be a little bit more substantiation. Consequently, most forces are now scaling this recording back though the College of Policing is still pushing to keep it going.

Picture showing several police officers in riot gear
London. June 9 2018. A view of riot police at a demonstration in Trafalgar Square.

What about the media?

The issue is that the media and other outlets then report these INCIDENTS as ‘HATE CRIME’. In the Starbucks incident, it was reported that the employee had made an allegation of a HATE CRIME, citing only that the customer had misgendered them. The foundational incident was one of a dispute about a refund though, which is thoroughly and completely a civil matter. So, again, no CRIME had taken place but the term Hate CRIME was used instead of reporting that a hate incident was reported.

Lately, I have become acutely aware of, and sensitive to, the language that news outlets choose to use. I notice the nuances much more than I ever did. Language is such a powerful tool and the choice of words as important as the selection of a weapon in a duel and we should all remain ever mindful of why and how certain terms are used.

In this Starbucks story, there simply was no HATE CRIME and yet, there it was in black and white. The link between misgendering and hate crime was being made, and is being made over and over. My question is how deliberate is this? When you look around and see the subtle attacks on free speech across all media platforms, does this escalation of terms cause any real surprise?

Does we need more hate crime specific offences on the statute books?

Is it an intentional campaign to have misgendering put on the statute books? Are the media repeatedly mentioning it as a hate CRIME in an attempt to conflate the two things until someone says, “Why isn’t it a specific crime?” For those that don’t know, intentional and repeated misgendering would already be covered by other existing offences as are instances of incitement. Make misgendering itself a crime and I fear for the future of free speech itself.

Think it would never happen? I point you towards that burgeoning tyrannical dictatorship, previously known as Canada. They have already done so. Misgendering someone will land you with a $25,000 fine, many times the fine you would receive for driving your car whilst drunk. 

What happens next?

If misgendering and other ’emotion’ related matters become a specific offence, how long before hurting someone’s feelings makes its way onto the statute books? It is already there in some guises (back to the POA and we’ll throw in the Protection from Harassment legislation for good measure) . It will no doubt be bolstered by the upcoming Online Safety Bill (though I need to look into that a bit more so will reserve judgement at this time).

So, when you read an article proclaiming someone has committed a ‘hate crime’, and there is no mention of the foundational criminal offence, then ask yourself whether or not the situation is as it is being portrayed. Hurt feelings are hurt feelings. They are not criminal offences.

Once they are, and I fear that is where some would wish us to go, human interaction may not survive. Conversation will die. Humour will be no more. Debating ideas will be a pastime consigned to the history books. Sounds dull.

By all means, report things, By all means, have them recorded. But once hurtful words start becoming crimes, and once unkindness or thoughtlessness start attracting fines and prison time, I’m not sure where we as a society go from there. The police should be allowed to get on with dealing with criminal activity. Everything else should surely be a matter of conscience.

I have included a link HERE about another incident related to this subject and the Public Order Act if you wanted to read more.

This article is only intended to spark debate. Please leave your comments and thoughts. I would love to hear what you think about this subject.


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