LGBT HATE CRIME RISES TO HIGHEST EVER LEVEL IN SCOTLAND

Hate crimes against LGBT people were at their highest ever level in the year to 31st March 2019, bucking the trend of an overall drop in other areas of hate charges.

1,216 anti-LGBT hate crimes were recorded in the year 2018-19, up 5% on the previous year, a near-consistent trend since hate crime legislation was introduced almost 10 years ago.

In figures released by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the statistics show crimes which were ‘aggravated’ by sexual orientation or transgender identity as a significant element in the crime. Court proceedings were brought against 91% of those charged, with only 2% of charges dropped, one of the lowest levels since hate crime laws were introduced.

Overall, there were 1,176 hate crimes with a sexual orientation element in the past 12 months. There were 40 categorised with a transgender identity element to the crime, a reduction of 20% on the previous year of 52.

The stats show hate crime charges have soared in Dundee and Edinburgh, with increases also seen in the Highlands, the Borders and West Scotland.

LGBT hate crime in the capital city is up by more than a third since 2015, with 221 offences reported in the last year. A number of incidents were publicly reported leading to calls from some for more action to keep people safer in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh resident, Michael Richardson, said he felt everyone needs to be vigilant and do more to tackle discrimination where we witness it:

“We need to keep increasing visibility of ourselves everywhere, at all times. Companies and businesses need to step up too, not just in this Pride month, in showing support. I do think there’s more chance of a bystander stepping in or getting involved than was the case maybe 10 years ago.”

“I do see more same sex couples holding hands here than ever before, which is great, but I always feel a little protective or worried for the couple incase something happens.”

Meanwhile, in Dundee, hate crime charges have increased from 29 to 49 in just twelve months. The city held its first major LGBT event when Dundee Pride launched in September 2018.

Co-Chair of Dundee Pride, Tim Kelly, said he felt the current political climate might be partly to blame for the 69% increase in the city:

“Perhaps the climate that seems to celebrate misogyny, racism, homophobia and transphobia has given permission to people holding such prejudices to act on them. Or perhaps such public support for LGBT people, demonstrated at the first Dundee Pride, has empowered people to report these crimes, rather than suffering in shame or silence.”

“Regardless of the reason, even one hate crime is too many. The statistics demonstrate that though LGBT equality has advanced greatly in the 50 years since the Stonewall riots, we still have a long way to go.”

“Given political events around the globe, these numbers remind us that the advances made in equality for women, BAME people, disabled people, religious minorities and the LGBT communities are precarious and could be quickly reversed.”

“The Pride movement continues to be needed today. We at Dundee Pride stand in solidarity with all our sisters, brothers and siblings from all backgrounds to push back against hate and work for equality – it’s about time!”

The hate crime statistics, which are published annually in Scotland and can be broken down by local court offices, show a positive reduction in several areas, including Perth, Livingston, Paisley, Forfar, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen and Dumfries.

Hate crime in Scotland is recorded across several areas, including race, disability, sexual orientation, transgender identity and religion.

The total number of hate crimes across all themes dropped to it’s lowest level since the legislation was introduced, at 4,616 charges.

The Equality Network provided training to Police Scotland which introduced LGBT-trained officers across the country. Speaking in 2016, the force said LGBT hate crime was “a priority” and that it was hoped more LGBT people would come forward to report incidents.

The Scottish Government have not yet commented on the figures released.

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