Labour-led parliamentary group calls for action to combat anti-Sikh hate

Andrew Kersley
© David Woolfall/CC BY 3.0

All-party parliamentary group for British Sikhs chair Preet Kaur Gill has written to the government after the publication of a report calling for action to address increasing hatred towards the Sikh community.

In a letter sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, the Shadow International Development Secretary and first British female Sikh MP highlighted the APPG report recommendations.

The paper calls on the UK government to offer more funding to combat anti-Sikh hatred and for the issue to be treated similarly to Islamophobic and antisemitic discrimination.

Gill said: “The scale of hate crimes targeting the Sikh community is a phenomenon that is largely invisible to government and the wider public. Official Home Office data for the last two years shows the level of reported hate crimes targeting Sikhs has increased by over 70%.

“However, the increased reporting is the result of Sikh community organisations raising awareness of the need to report and has been achieved with no government funding or support. This must now change as hate crimes against the Sikh community are on the increase and should not be hidden away and ignored.”

The APPG report into anti-Sikh hatred was commissioned after a meeting of the parliamentary group earlier this month concluded that government plans to tackle hate crime had largely focused on antisemitism and Islamophobia.

The group argued that the phrases ‘antisemitism’ and ‘Islamophobia’ are well-established in government and media circles, while in comparison hate crimes perpetrated against the Sikh community are often overlooked.

The newly released report calls for the establishment of an official term and definition for hate crimes against the Sikh community through consultation with the government and the wider public over the next 60 days.

The APPG has also expressed concern that a lack of government funding has undermined efforts to report and track the number of hate crimes being targeted against people in the Sikh community each year.

The government annually provides £14m of funding to the Community Security Trust, which helps fund the reporting of antisemitic hate crimes, while Tell Mama has received over £1m since 2012 to increase the reporting of Islamophobic hate crimes.

The Sikh Federation argued in 2016 that their community had been “invisible to the government since 9/11” despite a rising tide of hate crimes after one in five Sikhs reported experiencing public discrimination in the 2016 UK Sikh Survey.

The then Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced in January 2017 that new government funding would be earmarked specifically to support the Sikh community, but nearly four years later no such funding has been delivered.

The APPG has recommended that the government financially supports the work of the Sikh Network and Sikh Council to track hate crimes against their community with start-up grants and annual funding for the next three to five years.

The parliamentary group has said it hopes government funding will help the community-run initiatives establish 15 new Sikh hate crime reporting centres at Gurdwaras across the UK and an app and website for reporting hate crimes.

The number of hate crimes committed in England and Wales doubled between 2013 and 2018, with 103,379 hate crime incidents occurring in 2018-19, according to Home Office figures released in 2019.

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