The great nation of Scotland, within which I live, can proudly boast to have the highest proportion of ginger or red haired people in the world. Despite the fact that some find this a proud symbol of our cultural heritage it can be a cause of bullying, harassment and discrimination in Scotland and other nations around the world.
Many people may think that gone are the days when being ginger was a thing to be targeted as evil or ugly. The days of ancient Egypt where redheaded men were buried alive or in ancient Greece where they were thought to have a humour imbalance. This is not the case though; in the case of Helena Farrell a 15 year old girl who committed suicide which was attributed to the bullying due to her ginger hair; in 2007 a ginger family were forced to move after facing threats and abuse; In 2010, Nicole Nagington, 12, was forced to leave her school after death threats; a decade ago a man was stabbed 3 times in an unprovoked attack due to his hair colour. In addition to this the ever present bullying is rampant this harsh, cruel and obscene statements targeted towards younger people with ginger hair by teenagers and even some adults. This discrimination seems similar to that of any other inequality. Why is it then that if someone is assaults or threatens someone on the basis of them being ginger it is not counted as a racially aggravated crime? Simple. In law gingers are not a race; despite this many people think that, for the purposes of prosecuting for aggravated crimes, they should be. What then defines a race?
A race in biological terms “are genetically distinct populations within the same species” Red hair occurs most commonly in people with two copies of a recessive allele on chromosome 16 which alters the MC1R protein. This means that people with red hair are genetically distinct from other people. They also have clearly distinct visual characteristics which is a commonly held criteria. It seems then that since they are subject to abuse because of their “race” then it appears to me that abuse in this way should fall under racial aggravation law such as in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 section 96, or the Criminal Law (Consolidation)(Scotland) Act.
It seems strange to me that facing abusive behaviour for being: homosexual, transgender, transsexual, a Goth, black, Asian and so on, is counted as a hate crime, but being ginger is not despite the fact that it is also a thing that is not chosen by the person, and is something they are born with. Even if you don’t buy into my view of gingers as a race they should still be within a category that allows abuse towards them to be considered as hate crime. If a category has been created to allow abuse towards a Goth, on the basis of them being a Goth, to be considered a hate crime then there seems no justifiable reason for redheads not to be covered in the same manner.
In short adequate protection is required to help protect redheads from extensive abuse some of which I have highlighted as there is far more than I would ever wish to detail. This protection should come in the form of them being classified as a category of people that can suffer from hate crime.