The Government has been accused of failing women after confirming it does not intend to make misogyny a hate crime.
Home Office minister Sarah Dines said the Government is in agreement with the Law Commission and does not intend to bring forward legislation to add sex or gender as a protected characteristic in hate crime law.
An independent report by the Law Commission in December 2021 warned that such a change “may prove more harmful than helpful” to victims and to efforts to tackle hate crime more broadly.
The commission’s report stated: “While we consider that there is a serious problem of crime that is connected to misogyny, we have concluded that the particular model of hate crime laws is unlikely to prove an effective response to misogynistic offending, and may prove more harmful than helpful, both to victims of violence against women and girls, and also to efforts to tackle hate crime more broadly.
“We suggest that reforms in other areas are more likely to result in tangible, positive results.”
In a written statement, Ms Dines said: “The Government agrees with these concerns. Accordingly, the Government does not intend to bring forward legislation to add sex or gender as a protected characteristic in hate crime law.”
Misogyny is defined as the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against, women or girls.
It added: “This would potentially result in a two-tier hierarchy of prosecutions for these crimes, with some at risk of being socially perceived as ‘less harmful’ as a result of the hate crime element not having been proven.
“The Government believes that this would be an unacceptable unintended consequence and would send the completely wrong signal to the victims of these crimes.”
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have previously called for misogyny to be classed as a hate crime.
Responding to the Government update, Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for equalities, said: “This heartbreaking announcement speaks volumes about this Government’s attitude to violence and women and girls.
“This Conservative Government is failing every woman who has to live in fear of the violence which has misogynistic hatred at its root.
“We need the law to address that and address it now.”
The Government said it takes violence against women and girls “extremely seriously and will continue to pursue options outside of the hate crime framework to tackle these abhorrent crimes, building on existing progress to date”.