Abuse and violence against alternative subcultures, including goths and punks, will now be recorded as hate crimes by one police force in Britain.
Greater Manchester Police is thought to be the first force in the country to treat public offences against "goths, emos, punks and metallers" in the same way as they do attacks based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
Currently courts only consider hate an aggravating factor when sentencing on the five factors. Last year the Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone acknowledged it was an "incomplete list".
Manchester officers cited the death of Sophie Lancaster in August 2007 as part of the reason for the new approach. The 20-year-old was kicked to death in Bacup, Lancashire, for being dressed as a goth.
Her mother, Sylvia Lancaster, said it was a "validation of the work we have undertaken in the past five years". She added: "Hopefully other forces will follow GMP's lead."
The Sophie Lancaster Foundation is campaigning for hate crime legislation to be expanded to include "alternative subcultures or lifestyle and dress" across Britain.
GMP said the change would enable officers to give more support to victims but would not necessarily lead to tougher sentences.
"People who wish to express their alternative subculture identity freely should not have to tolerate hate crime," said Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan.
The move was well received in London's Camden area, a youth hub where myriad subcultures mingle.
"Some people discriminate against somebody else because they are wearing a Slayer T-shirt or have long hair," said Jay White, 23, referring to the thrash metal band. "They deserve to be brought to justice."
White, a leather-clad, self-described "metalhead" said members of subcultures faced discrimination just like religious minorities.
"For a lot of people, metal is their religion," he said.
- Independent, AP