Anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime in Scotland at record levels, new report shows

hate crime

The number of hate crimes reported to police in Scotland impacting LGBTQ+ people has more than doubled in the last 10 years, shocking new figures show. 

Scotland’s prosecution service, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), released data on Tuesday (13 June) which reveals the number of hate crimes recorded in the devolved nation between April 2022 and March 2023, as well as figures for earlier years. 

Hate crime is rooted in prejudice about a particular group in society, or perceived identification with a group, and can include verbal and physical abuse such as insults, damage to property and assault.  

In the document, crimes aggravated by the protected characteristics of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity are included. 

The figures show that in 2022/23 there were 1,884 hate crime charges in relation to sexual orientation and 55 related to transgender identity. 

In terms of sexual orientation, recorded hate crime charges were up by 1.5 per cent on the previous year (1,856 crimes) and for transgender identity there was actually a decrease on the 2021/22 reporting period, down from 86 cases (36 per cent decrease). 

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However, when compared to a decade ago, there is a stark increase in the number of hate crimes recorded against both groups. 

In 2013/14, just 887 hate crime incidents were recorded under the sexual orientation category and 25 under the transgender identity category. 

In the space of a decade, the number of hate crimes against LGB+ and trans people in Scotland have more than doubled.  

The figures also reveal sexual orientation-based hate crimes made up 33 per cent of all hate crimes recorded in 2022/23, whilst those related to being trans made up one per cent.

Hatred being fuelled by ‘culture war’, politician claims

In response to the startling numbers, Scottish Greens equality spokesperson Maggie Chapman said the situation is “sickening” and her “heart and solidarity” goes out to everyone impacted.  

She told The National: “It is no coincidence that these crimes are rising at a time when far-right and reactionary movements are growing and when toxic and poisonous smears are being normalised and encouraged by powerful people.

“Some of that hatred is being fuelled by politicians who know the impact of their words but are happy to throw our communities under the bus as part of a ‘culture war’ in order to score political points.

“We all have a responsibility to consider what we are saying and the impact that our words can have.” 

Overall, the total number of hate crimes recorded saw a small, two per cent fall in the last year, down from 5,851 in 2021/22 to 5,738 in 2022/23. 

Dorothy Bain KC, who has held the role of Lord Advocate in the Scottish government since 2021, pledged to continue to “robustly” tackle hate crime and ensure justice for victims. 

She said in a statement shared with Scottish Legal News:“We will not tolerate crime which damages the fundamental right of an individual to be exactly the person they are. 

“As prosecutors, we take very seriously our responsibility to protect victims and members of the public from these hate-fuelled offences.

“The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service will play its part in helping to create a safer society by prosecuting such crimes robustly and seeking justice for those who find themselves being victimised through the ignorance or bigotry of others.”

Scottish National Party cabinet secretary for justice and home affairs, Angela Constance, said told STV the government in Scotland is clear “any form of hatred or prejudice is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated”.

“Hate crime has hugely damaging effects on victims, their families and the wider community and we must all play our part to challenge it,” she said. “These latest figures show that we all must redouble efforts to tackle hatred and prejudice in Scotland.

“Our new Hate Crime Strategy – based on the views and needs of people with lived experience – sets out a vision for a Scotland where everyone lives free from hatred and prejudice.”

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.

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