A hate crime is when someone breaks a law by hurting another person because of prejudice against a group the victim belongs to. Normally, a hate crime is not caused in any way by something the victim did or said, but just because of who they are. Hate crime is often in the form of physical violence, but can also be vandalism and damage to property, insults or other hurtful words, or other violations of human rights. People often commit hate crime because of prejudice about the victim's sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender identity, class, sexual orientation, age, or other things about them.
The term "hate crime" was first used in the 1980s in the United States, when crimes caused by bias against certain types of people were being talked about in the media. Hate crime is sometimes a way to frighten other people who belong to the same group. This intimidation can be seen as terrorism when it is carried out on a large scale.
In 2009, the Matthew Shepard Act has changed the definition of a hate crime in the law of the United States. It says that crimes which were committed because of the victim's sexual orientation, gender identity or disability are hate crimes. It is the first law that protects transgender people.
- Donald P. Green, Laurence H. McFalls and Jennifer K. Smith (2001). "Hate Crime: An Emergent Research Agenda". Annual Review of Sociology (Annual Reviews) (Vol. 27): 480. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2678630.
- Ryken Grattet (February 2009). "The Urban Ecology of Bias Crime: A Study of Disorganized and Defended Neighborhoods". Social Problems (University of California Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of Social Problems) (Vol. 56, No. 1): 132-135. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/sp.2009.56.1.132.