Autism and Hate crime

From the TUC handbook, Autism in the Workplace

In 2013, Labour MP Ian Mearns introduced a Ten-Minute Rule Bill to require the police to maintain a register of hate crimes committed against people with learning difficulties, learning disabilities and autism. During the early months of 2014, this Bill is progressing through its Parliamentary stages.

“Disability hate crime has no place in 21st century Britain but an alarming number of people living with autism in the UK have suffered bullying, exploitation and harassment. This has to stop.
“It is both shocking and sickening that people with autism become targets of crime because of their disability, but unfortunately due to the social difficulties people with autism experience it can leave them vulnerable to being taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals.”
Sarah Lambert, Head of Policy at the National Autistic Society, in response to Ian Mearns’ Bill

“On 23rd June 2012, Steven Simpson, a gay autistic student, was verbally abused, stripped, and his body scrawled with offensive slogans. He was then doused in tanning oil and 20-year-old Jordan Sheard set fire to his crotch with a cigarette lighter. The flames engulfed his body, his attackers fleeing as neighbours tried desperately to extinguish the flames. Steven died the next day suffering 60 per cent burns.
“Steven was murdered because of his sexuality and disability. However, on 21st March 2013 at Sheffield Crown Court, Judge Roger Keen dismissed the crime as “good-natured horseplay” that had “gone too far” and sentenced Sheard to only three-and-a-half years in prison. Sheard’s lawyer described Steven’s killing as a “stupid prank that went wrong in a bad way”. We demand justice for Steven Simpson.
“We believe that the sentence given to Jordan Sheard does not reflect the serious nature of the hate crime committed.
“We call on the TUC to support campaigns to raise awareness of hate crime and the issues involved.
“We believe that due to his appalling comments Judge Keen is unfit to hear cases such as this. We demand that his description of this attack as “good natured horseplay” is legally overturned.”
Resolution passed by TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference 2013

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