United Kingdom: New report reveals increasing hate speech and racist violence

A new report on the United Kingdom has confirmed fears that racism and discrimination in the country are at worrying levels.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) highlights key concerns in its latest report on the United Kingdom published today.

“It is no coincidence that racist violence is on the rise in the UK at the same time as we see worrying examples of intolerance and hate speech in the newspapers, online and even among politicians,” said ECRI Chair Christian Ahlund.

“The Brexit referendum seems to have led to a further rise in ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment, making it even more important that the British authorities take the steps outlined in our report as a matter of priority.”

ECRI welcomes the entry into force of the Equality Act 2010 and the generally strong legislation against racism and racial discrimination in the country.

It also endorses the government’s new hate crime action plan and substantial efforts to promote LGBT rights in the UK, which have led to a significant change in attitudes.

At the same time, the commission noted considerable intolerant political discourse in the UK, particularly focusing on immigration. It said that hate speech continues to be a serious problem in tabloid newspapers, and that online hate speech targeting Muslims in particular has soared since 2013.

ECRI also noted a particularly high number of violent racist incidents in 2013, including a sharp rise in anti-Muslim violence, as well as record levels of anti-Semitic incidents the following year.

The report also underlines that there is no national strategy for the integration of Roma, Gypsies and Travellers in the UK and these communities continue to suffer severe disadvantage.

The ECRI report makes 23 recommendations to the UK government, the most pressing of which – relating to equality legislation in Northern Ireland and data collection on the application of the Equality Act 2010 – will be reviewed by ECRI in two years’ time.

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