Hate Crimes And The Psychology Behind It


A hate crime is basically defined as any criminal offense which takes place against a person or any property which a specific person owns that has been motivated in whole or in any part by the offender’s bias or prejudice against a specific race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or ethnicity. In general sense, Hate crimes are the feeling of bias which the offender feels about a certain class of people, and their feelings about that particular class of people acts as a catalyst and drives them to commit crimes against that certain class.

The hate crimes are being committed in an increasing amount, and the incidents usually involve brutal violence against any individual or a particular group, which is being primarily committed by mobs and majority of these violence are being committed on religious matters. This not just increases the threat which minorities face but also creates turmoil in the existing social system and the social structure. The feelings which the offenders possess is motivated by the feelings of hate and a bias mindset, the hate crimes aim at sending a message to a particular group in order to implant a feeling of fear and dominance over others.

India has been witnessing a rigorous growth in the hate crimes which have been happening to the people who belong to the minority communities in the past few years. Majority of the hate crimes which have taken place are against Muslims as well as Dalits, which constitute a share of the victims of religious hate crimes.

India, in the constitution as well as the preamble, Regards India as a sovereign, socialist, secular and a Democratic Republic which shall secure all its citizen, provide justice, Liberty as well as equality to the people. However, the increasing amount of hate crimes in India has put a question mark on these features.


Hate crimes, which occur in India, a result of the religious-bias-motivated hate crime. Such religious hate crimes are motivated against a certain religion or a certain religious identity of the victim. Hate crimes of such nature are an attack on a person’s rights, which not just affect the victim but also shake the foundation of the social structure, and affects a person not just physically, but also mentally.

The psychological distress which is caused by such crimes does not only extend to a certain individual, but affects the social structure as a whole and certain classes of people. Such disputes arising out of hate crimes make it way more disastrous and heinous than any other crime.


As it has been discussed earlier hate crimes do not have any similarity with other crimes, as it has the element of bias attached to it. Hate crime is different in nature however it still falls under the purview of a penal crime and imposes punishment. As the hate crime is motivated by the feelings of bias, the factors under which the crime has been committed need to be observed thoroughly, and then distinguished, it could take into purview the selection of a victim which could be based on the feelings of the prejudice of his religion, community, gender etc. Hate crimes are an occurrence of an extreme form of discrimination faced by a certain class of people, the commission of such crimes happens as a result of various differences which are present in the communities against each other which make one of the community discriminate against another, and later commit crimes against them because of the bias.

The target behind the hate crime is always an individual or any other group which possess a common characteristic. Some of the hate crimes have varying degrees, for instance some may be abuse, derogatory remarks against another religion, picking up fights and others may range from physical abuse to homicide to even vandalism and lynching.


Hate crimes are a form of prejudice, from one community or religion to another which may be in the context of a political or a social change. It should also be noted that it may be that the offenders are not just motivated by hate but also maybe in a state of fear or anger instead, these feelings of fear as well as anger may push them to commit such acts against any group which is unfamiliar or which does not fit their criteria. It can also be that people view the other groups or the other community of people which they are not a part of as a lower or distinguish from them; they may view them as individuals from other communities which do not belong to their own and apply biases. People may assume what a person is like just based on the community they belong to and maybe they do not see the person as different from the group, this prejudice and the stereotypes are the foundation and the basics of hate crime.


Understanding the psychology behind the heat crimes essential, the motivating factors which lead to hate crimes must be identified. Some of the offenders which commit crimes are-

Thrill seeking offenders which have an imbalance need for excitement; such people often want to cause trouble. Majority of the times there's no real reason as to why they commit such crimes; they are simply driven towards the rush of excitement they get by putting down the life of others.

Another type of offenders may be Defensive offenders, such people think of themselves as they are defending something which is important to them; this may be their community, their religion, their workplace etcetera. Unlike the offender which are thrill seeking in nature these defensive offenders often know the target they' are attacking. These offenders think of their actions as the steps which they need to follow in order to provide protection to their community or religion.

Another category offenders is Retaliatory offenders, these offenders are motivated by a sense of revenge. This may be due to the fact that something has happened in their life, due to which they despise a certain class and community of people. It may also be that the person them self has gone through or witnessed an accident which involves hate, and this incident acts as a catalyst for the crime they commit. For example if a crime has been committed against a person family member by someone who is of a particular caste , class, community or religion, gradually the person would come to hate any person who belongs to that community, class or religion. Such person will not be able to distinguish a person aside from his group.

Another category is Mission offenders; these offenders are rare and seek to make a career out of their hate. Such people pre plan their attack. Such people are often committed to certain groups which bear the same views against a race religion or even a political cause, and there only aim is to wage war against these enemies. These kinds of offenders are a threat and the most difficult to deal with.


The various types of hate crimes which are committed in India can be classified under the following-

The first one is hate speeches, these speeches aim at expressing hatred for a certain group or a particular race especially in order to provoke violence amongst different groups. Such speeches are often delegated towards some people or a certain community. The most common and the basic grounds on which hate speeches are based on are the difference of race, ethnicity, religion or class. In India the incidence of hate speeches has been increasing, such acts are punished under the Indian Penal Code under section 153A, 153B, 295A, 298, 505(1) which declare that the words which promote any sense of disharmony or hatred, or an insult which is based on any other person's religion, ethnicity, culture, language, caste, community, erase, language is punishable under law, however, some people avoid it due to the freedom of speech and expression which is misused. This is an urgent concern not only to regulate such speeches but also to deal with the damage which such heat speeches have already caused.

Another such crime that is prevalent is lynching and mob violence, “lynching is the targeting of violence which affects the human body and is against private and public property.”[1] Lynching mostly includes the attacks which result in murder or in an attempt to murder, harassment, and assault etcetera.


India is a secular country, it respects and provides protection to every citizen and every person, the protection is not just restricted to a certain religion, caste, community, gender. The protection is provided to each and every person irrespective of the group they belong to, the hate crimes which are being committed are spreading social turmoil in India as the cases of hate crimes are increasing day by day. Considering all these problems, there is an urgent need for separate legislation that should be strictly implemented in order to put an end to such hate crimes.

[1] Tehseen S. Poonawala v. Union of India, (2018) 6 SC 72.

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