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Learn More: What is a Hate Crime?

What is Hate?

Not every act of hate is a hate crime. Acts of hate, “hate incidents,” are expressions of underlying bias against people or individuals based on their actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

There are three types of hate incidents:

Hate Incidents

Hate Crimes

In order for something to be classified as a hate crime, it must be both  a crime and motivated in part by bias.

Crimes: Assault, battery, aggravated assault, intimidation, stalking, cyberstalking, misdemeanor theft, criminal trespass to residence, misdemeanor criminal damage to property, criminal trespass to vehicle, criminal trespass to real property, mob action, disorderly conduct, transmission of obscene messages, harassment by telephone, or harassment through electronic communications (720 ILCS 5/12-7.1)

Bias motivations include the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, citizenship, immigration status, or national origin of an individual or group of individuals. 

Examples of hate crimes:  

  • Threatening to physically harm a person, their family, or their property based on their perceived protected class 

  • Assaulting, injuring, or even touching someone in an offensive manner because of their perceived protected class 

  • Creating racist or derogatory graffiti on someone else’s property based on their perceived protected class.  

  • Cross burning 

Bias-Motivated Civil Rights Violations

These hate incidents may not be crimes, but they violate one’s civil rights. They include discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, and retaliation against individuals in connection with employment, real estate transactions, access to credit, public accommodations, and education.

These rights are protected in Illinois’s Human Rights Act and should be reported to the Illinois Department of Human Rights at 

Examples of bias-motivated civil rights violations may include:

  • An employer denying an employee a promotion because of their race, ethnicity, or other actual or perceived protected class
  • Denial of housing based on a protected identity or class
  • Refusal to serve in a restaurant, store, or other public business or accommodation based on identity protected by the Illinois Human Rights Act

Many incidents are hateful but are nonetheless legally protected expression, such as hate speech that does not include an underlying crime or civil offense. Though legal, these incidents cause harm.


  • Name calling; using a racial, ethnic, or other slur to identify someone; or using degrading language. Without intimidation or threat, these acts may be legal.

  • Imitating someone with a disability or mocking someone’s cultural norm or practice.

The Commission on Discrimination & Hate Crimes and Illinois v Hate are not able to provide legal advice, direct legal aid, or determinations on specific incidents, yet we are here to help.

If you have experienced a hate incident, report your experience to Illinois v Hate.