Council rules to recognise misogyny as a hate crime despite Aontú opposition

By Joshua Henry

The SDLP’s Mary Durkan had a motion passed which “supports the inclusion of misogyny as a category of hate crime” at the Derry City and Strabane district council meeting with only Aontú’s Anne McCloskey opposed to the bill.

Durkan said that “Misogyny is everywhere” and that “Prejudice against women is often not instantly recognisable and deeply ingrained in attitudes and in systems”.

 This comes as figures released by the Department of Justice revealed that during the lockdown over 8,000 cases of domestic violence were reported to the PSNI.

The work of the campaign group “Raise your Voice” was acknowledged by Durkan. The group which is made up of multiple organisations including ‘Women’s Support Network” and trade unions aim to tackle sexual violence and harassment in Northern Ireland.

Councillors cited recent social media attacks on MPs as their motivation for supporting this proposal. Alliance’s Rebecca Ferguson referred to the “rape threats” that her colleague Sorcha received via social media. Alderman McKane of the UUP labelled the harassment experienced by former deputy mayor, Cara Hunter in February as “absolutely disgraceful and despicable”.

 While, Shauna Cusack of the SDLP alluded to her own personal experience of misogyny, which was shared by chamber and party members.

The motion received cross party support apart from opposition from Anne McCloskey, a member of the pro-life party Aontú. McCloskey expressed that, “I can’t support this motion. It’s a motion of course championed by our friend Stella Creasey who gives abortion on demand here.”

Before Mayor Tierney went to a vote as a result of this, McCloskey intervened to state she was satisfied to let the bill pass due to every other party supporting the motion.

The motion passed.