Disabled Australians Subjected to Hate Crimes

By Annie Guest
ABC (Australia), Aug. 7, 2010 11:18am AEST

Brisbane- research reveals thousands of Australians with disabilities are increasingly being subjected to hate crimes.

But the researcher making the claims, visiting US academic Dr Mark Sherry, says the lack of legal recognition of disability hate crime means it is
often characterised as abuse and penalised lightly.

One cerebral palsy sufferer has told ABC Radio’s AM that he and his wife have been victims of hate crime in Brisbane and it was not taken seriously
by authorities.

Aboriginal man Byron Albury says the hate crime was perpetrated by past neighbours because he and his wife have cerebral palsy and rely on
wheelchairs.

“They’d leave abusive notes in our mailbox; they’d abuse us for parking maxi taxis [that were] dropping off in front of their property or picking up in
front of their property because of their size,” he said.

“We tried to resolve this like rational people and they just weren’t interested, basically.

“We got comments from them like ‘you’ve devalued the property, [it was] bad enough that nobody told us that you lived here, because if [we had known] you lived here we wouldn’t buy the property’.”

Such treatment is common, and it often gets much worse, according to Dr Sherry, who has written a book about it.

He cites the self-described Teenage Kings of Werribee who were alleged to have sexually assaulted and urinated on a disabled girl in 2006. They
received suspended sentences.

But Dr Sherry says thousands of Australians experience disability hate crimes each year.

“Some of it goes back to social Darwinist ideas about survival of the fittest; some of them talk about their images of disabled people being
smelly or dirty or bad karma, possessed by the devil,” he said.

AM spoke to a former Australian adult guardian, the statutory appointee who oversees the affairs of adults with disabilities.

He said he had not encountered the issue of hate crime against people with disabilities.

Dr Sherry says that is “exactly the level of ignorance” that allows it to continue.

He says Australia must follow the lead of the US and others and legally recognise disability hate crime so that it attracts higher penalties, and
then efforts can be made to tackle the problem.

Reproduced from http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/08/07/2976378.htm