My editor is worried that this week's column is a bit racist. This wasn't my intention. Is it racist? Let me know.
It depends on the pertinent definition of racism. In this case, probably the definition used by the police and the CPS "covered by legislation (sections 28-32 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and sections 145 and 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003)":
"Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person's disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or transgender identity or perceived transgender identity."
There is no legal definition of hostility so we use the everyday understanding of the word which includes ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.
According to the Equal Opportunities Commision, the Equality Act 2010 gives a definition of race as:
Race means being part of a group of people who are identified by their nationality, citizenship, colour, national or ethnic origins. If you belong to any one of these groups and you experience discrimination, it would be counted as race discrimination. It also counts as discrimination if you are not part of any one of these groups but someone discriminates against you because they think you are. This is known as perceived race discrimination.
Race discrimination that occurs within any of the subsequent settings is unlawful:
- In the workplace.
- In any educational institution.
- When providing services or goods such as in the banking, entertainment or transportation industries.
- Any activity performed by any of our public authorities like the police, prisons, the NHS, local authorities and government departments.
Also, irrespective of whether the race discrimination was deliberate or unintentional, it would still count as discrimination and be deemed unlawful.
So unintentional racism is still caught. If what you wrote is perceived by someone in England&Wales from China to be motivated by prejudice, it could possibly be argued as being a racial hate crime (given the above definitions and legislation).
It is also worth reading the CPS's "Public Statement on Racist and Religious Hate Crime", and the CPS's "Racist and Religious Hate Crime - Prosecution Guidance".
This is where the crack legal team of El Reg should be advising you. I'm not legally qualified, and don't have any connection with the criminal justice system, so my advice probably has negative value. If you are unsure, consult someone who is qualified to opine. Not doing so could, possibly, be an expensive mistake.