Providing support and promoting respect for everyone with a visible difference

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What hate crimes are and why they are not acceptable

We’re sorry that you think visible hate crimes are acceptable, but thanks for your honesty. This page details a little more about what hate crimes and hostile behaviours are and the impact they can have. We hope this helps you to see why these behaviours cannot be tolerated.

What is a hostile behaviour or hate crime?

We all have the right to be treated fairly, equally and with respect. Yet many people regularly experience negative behaviour from other people because of their visible difference. But what is a hostile behaviour and when does it become a hate crime?

As well as hate being directed at me, there have been numerous occasions where this prejudice has spread to the way people treat my partner and daughter too.


Hostile behaviours are any unwanted behaviours such as staring, abuse or harassment. For example, shouting something offensive at someone because of their visible difference is harassment. Many people with a visible difference experience some form of verbal abuse or nasty comments. Some have had threats, including death threats made to them. Others have been physically intimidated. All of these are hostile behaviours.

Hate incidents are when the victim – or anyone else- – believes the hostile behaviour was motivated by prejudice. This could be prejudice based on the person’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

If someone has experienced hostile behaviour because of their visible difference, legally this could be classed as a disability hate incident, even if the person doesn’t consider themselves to be disabled. A hate incident becomes a hate crime, when a criminal act has taken place, such as physical assault, criminal damage or hate mail. Read more about hate crimes.

What’s the impact of hostile behaviour and hate crimes?

Many people who’ve experienced negative behaviours lose confidence, feel anxious when they go out and say their mental health is affected. This can impact all areas of their lives, from simply walking out of their front door to their education or job prospects and the friendships they make.

I experienced bullying throughout my time at senior school. When I was 12-years-old, there was a particular group of people who targeted me. Things escalated from the name calling I received in the school corridors to them throwing rocks at my home and smashing a window. Not being able to escape from them, even in my own home, was scary.


Imagine if a friend, colleague or someone you loved was one of the 33% of people with a visible difference who experienced a hate crime. How would you feel? Or if they were one of the 49% who had experienced negative behaviours? Would it still be ‘acceptable’ or something they should just forget?

Find out more

Our Visible Hate campaign

Read the latest research about the abuse faced by many people with a visible difference and see how you can get involved in our Visible Hate campaign.