Reports of homophobic hate crimes rise in Scotland

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

The number of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Scotland coming forward to report homophobic attacks, abuse and vandalism has risen sharply.

An investigation by the Daily Record found that one force, Tayside, does not record the sexuality or gender identity of crime victims.

Strathclyde police told the paper that there have been 216 reported homophobic crimes this year, up from 50 in 2005.

Grampian police force have had 53 such crimes reported in 2007/8, compared to 14 in 2005.

In Central Scotland and Lothian and Borders the latest figures were 16 and 76, up from 5 and 16 three years ago.

New legislation that will allow Scotland’s courts can impose tougher sentences for offences aggravated by the victim’s disability, gender identity or sexual orientation should be law by 2009.

The Sentencing of Offences Aggravated by Prejudice (Scotland) Bill was proposed by Patrick Harvie, a Scottish Green MSP, last year.

It would require the aggravation of an offence by prejudice on grounds of disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity to be taken into account in sentencing.

He told that he is “confident” it will become law by next summer.

A 2004 working group, which included police, the Crown Office and gay and disabled groups recommended the legislation.

But before the 2007 election, the momentum was lost.

After he was re-elected for the Glasgow region, Mr Harvie introduced his own bill.

Stonewall Scotland, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Capability Scotland, Amnesty International, the Equality Network, SAMH, LGBT Youth Scotland, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and HIV Scotland all support Mr Harvie’s bill.

Police forces in Scotland have shown more support for the gay community recently.

Lothian and Borders police force were named as the best employer for gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Scotland in January and celebrated LGBT History Month by flying the rainbow flag at their headquarters.