Hate crimes are ordinary crimes but with an aggravating circumstance: they are motivated by hostility towards the social group to which the victim belongs.
Almost every crime can become a hate crime. What makes an act of aggression or persecution a hate crime is the fact that the victim is “chosen” on the basis of her/his membership (or presumed membership) of a certain “group”. Membership of a particular group is inferred for example from wearing a religious symbol, having a given skin colour and/or other physical features that are different from those of the majority population or showing affection for someone of the same sex.
Often the attacker does not even know the victim. The act of violence or aggression is not a reaction to something the victim has done or said. Rather, it is due to her or his physical appearance, clothing or a cultural practice, which identifies the person as belonging to a certain group.
Being the victim or target of a racist, homophobic or disability-based assault or a verbal insult is certainly a terrible experience and can be very shocking. Besides the negative physical, psychological, economic and social consequences, hate victimization causes anxiety over the future in people who have experienced it and uncertainty about how to react to it.
If you are a victim or a witness of a hate crime, it is important to report such an incident because it is a direct attack against your dignity, physical integrity, the right to respect and psychological well-being. It is also a threat to community cohesion as a whole.
Source: FRA 2016