In the past ten days, several constituents have reported being increasingly subject to hateful abuse over their race or nationality in London, Oxford and Wycombe. Recently, I attended a conference where UK Christians described acts of persecution they had suffered after converting here at home.
Hateful abuse like racism and religious persecution is and always will be intolerable.
As this website has set out for years, I believe in equality before the law and freedom, including freedom of religion. Every individual is and must remain morally, legally and politically equal. It is immoral to discriminate amongst people on the grounds of their identity. It is wrong to make prejudiced assumptions about whole classes of individuals. Physical attack and using threatening, abusive or insulting language are offences.
In October 2016, Theresa May gave a message of support for Hate Crime Awareness Week. The Prime Minister said:
Hate crime has no place in Britain. In my 6 years as Home Secretary I saw the pain and suffering it causes – and the consequences when we fail to act. As Prime Minister, I am determined to make Britain a place where all our communities can flourish and all people – whatever their background, can go as far as their talents will take them. That means stamping out sickening and shameful hate crime.
Everybody living in this country is equal and everybody is free to lead their lives as they see fit. We are free to practise any faith, follow any religious denomination, or ignore religion altogether.
We have one of the strongest legislative frameworks in the world continuing to protect communities from hostility, violence, homophobia and bigotry but we need to do more.
It is completely unacceptable for people to suffer abuse or attacks because of their nationality, ethnic background or colour of their skin. This government will not stand for it.
We have already taken steps to improve our collective response to hate crime. Police forces now ensure that the recording of religion-based hate crime now includes the faith of the victim. The Crown Prosecution Service has issued new guidance to prosecutors on racially aggravated crime, and we have provided funding for protective security at vulnerable institutions and for community organisations to help tackle hate crime.
We have published the Hate crime action plan which includes working with schools to equip teachers and parents to challenge hatred and know how to report it. And we are working directly with communities to challenge the harms that they see every day as a result of hate crime, including a £2.4 million fund for security for places of worship, and new funding for projects that tackle hate crime in communities.
But we must go further. As long as hate crime exists, we must challenge ourselves to do more. Because, as I said on the steps of Downing Street, my mission is to make Britain a country that works for everyone. Hate crime of any kind, directed against any community, race or religion, has absolutely no place in British society.
Together, by standing against hate and for tolerance, we can build a better and more united Britain that works for everyone.
I agree with the Prime Minister. Now and always, the law and the Government must have zero tolerance for hatred.
I would encourage anyone who suffers abuse or attacks to make a report to the police, in Thames Valley, here.