BHA representatives attended the launch event yesterday of a new campaign to tackle prejudice and hate crime suffered by people of ‘alternative sub-cultures.’ The new campaign, set up by the Romanian Humanist Association in partnership with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, aims to collect evidence from, and give support to, people in Romania and the UK who suffer discrimination and harassment due to their ‘alternative’ appearance, dress or music tastes. The campaign is likely to also seek to support people from many other countries in the future.
The campaign was set up following the violent death of Sophie Lancaster in Lancashire in 2007, who was murdered by a group of young people for being of ‘alternative’ appearance. This led to a growing recognition that, in many places around the world, people who are members of alternative subcultures are at risk of intolerance. Sophie’s family held a humanist funeral in November 2007 to celebrate her life.
Pepper Harow, Local Campaigns Officer, attended the launch and stated, ‘This new campaign recognises a growing problem in many areas of the world. In a lot of cases, particularly outside of the UK, these attacks can be motivated by religious beliefs that see the wearing of black or listening to certain types of music as symbols of Satanism or religious indiscretion. The name of the campaign is symbolic of suspicion shown towards members of alternative subcultures and the perceived link between alternative communities and ‘witchcraft.’ There is also evidence that there is some cross over between this sort of abuse and homophobia, with people being branded as ‘gay’ due to the clothes they wear or the length of their hair.’
She continued, ‘Freedom of belief and expression are fundemental to Humanism and the tragic death of Sophie Lancaster proves the importance of this issue and the severity of the problem. The launch of the new campaign is therefore welcome news.’
For further comment or information, contact Pepper Harow on 020 7462 4992
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief.