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26 December 2011

Longer sentences for hate murders

From Google News:

(UKPA) Murderers motivated by hostility towards disabled or transgender victims will face life sentences with a starting point of 30 years, after a pre-operative transgender prostitute was murdered in London.

Kenneth Clarke doubled the length of sentence which judges use to calculate the minimum term offenders must serve behind bars, saying hate crimes were abhorrent.

Killers “should be in no doubt that they face a more severe sentence for these unacceptable crimes”, he said on Thursday.

The 30-year starting point brings murders motivated by hate towards disabled or transgender victims in line with those motivated by race, religion, or sexual orientation.

It comes after Leon Fyle, 23, was jailed for life in September at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London for the murder of Destiny Lauren, a pre-operative transgender prostitute. Fyle, who was convicted after a retrial, was told he must serve 21 years behind bars before being considered for release.

Mr Clarke said: “Hate crimes are abhorrent, they leave sections of society living in fear and at risk of unprovoked violence. The courts already treat all hate crime seriously and aggravate sentences accordingly.”

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said there was “no excuse for any form of hate crime”, and the moves would “send out a strong message to victims and perpetrators” that they will face “the full force of the law”. Her comments came as she announced the first national strategy to promote transgender equality.

Some 70% of children who are uncertain about their gender are subject to bullying, while 88% of transgender employees experience discrimination or harassment in their workplace, the Home Office said.

Ms Featherstone added: “Too many transgender people still face prejudice at every stage of their lives, from playground bullying, to being overlooked for jobs or targeted for crime.”

April Ashley, who became the first Briton to undergo sex-change surgery in 1960, said: “I think there are so many support groups out there unlike when I did my transition 52 years ago when there was no help at all. Today’s announcement shows we are moving forward to breaking down barriers and educating people.”

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