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Online hate speech, hate crimes and what to do about it

Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and share updates on your life, but unfortunately some people choose to use it to share negative or abusive messages. With more of us spending time online, we want to share some key information about how to deal with abuse if you ever face it online.






What is hate speech and hate crime?


Content which is threatening or abusive, and is intended to harass, alarm, or distress someone is illegal in the UK and is sometimes called ‘hate speech’. Although some people may try and say they have the right to ‘free speech’, UK laws protect LGBT+ people from abuse based on their sexuality or gender identity.

A hate crime is when someone commits a criminal offence because of someone else’s race, religion, disability, sexuality, or gender identity. If someone is being abusive towards you online and it’s because of your sexuality or gender identity, this could be a hate crime (depending on whether or not a criminal offence has been committed).

Some examples of things where a crime may be committed online are:

  • Homophobic, biphobic or transphobic slurs or offensive language

  • Threats to harm you

  • Blackmail

  • Setting up fake profiles in your name

  • Posting intimate pictures/videos (e.g. nudes) or photoshopping your face on other naked photos e.g. shots from porn

  • Posting content which is aimed to turn people against a certain group of people (e.g. LGBT+ people)


Top Tips


  • Take screenshots as evidence that something has been said (the person sending the abuse might delete it and deny they sent it)

  • Report it on the social media platform, you can find some useful links at the bottom of this page

  • Report it to the Police if you think it may be a crime (you don’t need to know if it is a crime to report it, the Police can advise you if it is a crime)

  • It can be hard but remember they’re the person in the wrong, so don’t get pulled in to an argument or mirror their behaviour

  • Speak to someone if you need support – Galop is a great charity who can offer support with anti-LGBT violence, get in touch with them if you need more information and advice


How do I report online abuse?


Most social media channels have information on their community standards about the things that are banned on their sites, and how to report content against their rules. See some below:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/263149623790594

Twitter: https://help.twitter.com/en/safety-and-security/report-abusive-behavior

Instagram: https://help.instagram.com/165828726894770/

Snapchat: https://support.snapchat.com/en-GB/a/report-abuse-in-app

TikTok: https://support.tiktok.com/en/privacy-safety/report-inappropriate-content-default


Even if you’re not sure whether a crime has been committed, you can report it to the Police by calling 101 and they can advise you on the best thing to do.

Find more information about anti-LGBT+ violence (including hate crimes and hate speech) on Galop’s website: http://www.galop.org.uk/

LGBT Stoke is a service provided by the Sexual Health Prevention Team from Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust