Scotland sees anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes soar in worrying new figures

Scotland's flag with an LGBTQ+ symbol in the forefront

Hate crime incidents against LGBTQ+ people in Scotland have soared by 75 per cent in just eight years, shocking new figures have revealed. 

The new data was released by the Scottish Government’s Justice Analytical Services on Tuesday (January 24) and presents “the findings of a study into the nature of police recorded hate aggravated crimes in Scotland”, as well as data for each year dating back to 2014. 

A hate crime is defined in the report as “any crime which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated (wholly or partly) by malice and ill-will towards a social group”. 

In Scotland, the law recognises these incidents as motivated by prejudice based on certain characteristics, these include disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

During the 2021-22 year, Scotland Police recorded 6,927 hate crimes which is slightly lower than in 2014-15, when the figure was 7,029. 

Since 2014-15, the number of total hate crimes recorded across all groups by the police has fluctuated between 6,300 and 7,000 crimes.

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In 2021-22, around three-fifths (62 per cent) of hate crimes in Scotland included a race aggravator and over a quarter (27 per cent) included a sexual orientation aggravator.

LGBTQ+ hate crime incidents have increased since 2014

In 2021-22, there were 1,855 incidents where sexual orientation was an aggravating factor and 185 incidents where transgender identity was the aggravator. 

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It reflects a rise in transphobic hate crimes across the UK.

When compared with the previous year (2020-21), this shows an increase in hate crimes of just over 10 per cent for LGB+ people – up from 1,683 – and 68 per cent for trans people, up from 110 incidents. 

If the most recent figures are compared with 2014-15 then it shows a 67 per cent increase in recorded hate crimes for LGB+ people – up from 1,110 – and a 249 per cent increase for trans people, up from 53 incidents. 

If the 2014-15 and 2021-22 figures for the sexual orientation and transgender identity characteristics are combined together, they show that for the LGBTQ+ community hate crime incidents have shot up by 75 per cent – from 1,163 to 2,040. 

LGBTQ+ hate crime figures have grown since 2014 (PinkNews)

In a statement shared with PinkNews, Scotland Police superintendent Claire Dobson said: “Targeting anyone because of who they are is deplorable.

“Hate crime should have no place in society and we are working to increase awareness and encourage reporting.

“We want anyone who experiences hate crime, including when our officers and staff are targeted, to report it in the knowledge they will be treated fairly, with respect and the circumstances investigated professionally.”

Over half of transgender identity aggravated crimes had a female or all female group of victims (56 per cent). 

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Crimes with a male or all male group of victims accounted for 43 per cent. 

The average age of a victim was 28 years old. 

The majority of transgender identity aggravated hate crimes had a male or all male group of perpetrators, representing around three quarters (74 per cent) of crimes. 

The average age of a perpetrator was 26 years old.

LGBTQ+ couple wearing rainbow flag
Hate crime rates against LGBTQ+ people have increased in Scotland (Omar Havana/Getty Images)

Just over half of crimes (53 per cent) with a transgender identity aggravator involved a perpetrator not known to the victim, with a further third (35 per cent) of crimes where the victim and perpetrator were acquaintances.

Over two thirds of victims (or 70 per cent) were from a White Scottish background. 

The next largest group was Other White British (20 per cent of victims), followed by Other White (6 per cent). 

All other ethnicities made up the remaining 4% of victims. 

Where information was available on the ethnicity of perpetrators, the vast majority of transgender identity aggravated hate crime had a perpetrator of White Scottish ethnicity (84 per cent). 

The second largest ethnic group was Other White British (13 per cent of perpetrators). All other ethnic groups accounted for the remaining 4 per cent of perpetrators.

Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland said: “We are disappointed to see that hate crimes against towards the LGBTQi+ community in Scotland have increased significantly since 2014.

“Any form of hate crime can have a long-lasting impact on individuals, families and communities, leading to a sense isolation and powerlessness.

“Victim Support Scotland is here to provide practical and emotional support to anyone affected by hate crime, regardless of background. Our services are free, confidential and available to everyone, regardless of background.

“Anyone affected by hate crime and hate incidents, who does not want to report to the police directly, can use Victim Support Scotland’s Third Party Reporting services across the country.

“Please contact us for a confidential chat on 0800 160 1985 or visit www.victimsupport.scot.”

Nearly half of hate crimes towards police officers were queerphobic 

Sexual orientation was the biggest aggravator in cases where the victim was a police officer. 

In almost half of experienced by police officers (45 per cent), the perpetrator showed a prejudice towards the gay and lesbian community, this equates to around 670 crimes.

In this area, the report emphasises that “a person (or in these cases a police officer) does not need to be a member of the social group being targeted by the perpetrator to be the victim of a hate crime and their identity or other characteristics do not need to align with the perpetrator’s perceptions”.

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