Hate crime

‘There is no excuse for any form of hate crime; it is simply not acceptable and it will not be tolerated.’ Kenny Macaskill MSP,Cabinet Secretary for Justice, 2010


One in six lesbian, gay and bisexual people have been a victim of homophobic hate crime in the last three years. Three in four of these crimes are not reported to the police.

Stonewall Scotland's new research into lesbian, gay and bisexual people's experiences of hate crime shows that gay people still suffer abuse in all areas of their life - from stranger, neighbours, workmates and even family.

Scotland Hate Crime Guide image   Scotland Hate Crime Cornerstone image 

Scotland Hate Crime Guide        Scotland Cornerstone Document 


Definition of hate crime

Police Scotland defines a hate crime as being a crime motivated by malice or ill will towards a social group by

  • Race
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion/faith
  • Disability
  • Transgender/gender identity

and describes hate crimes as being ‘abhorrent and target marginalised and vulnerable members of our communities with devastating effect on both victims and their families.’

Police Scotland defines a hate incident as any incident that is not a criminal offence, but something which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hate or prejudice.

The Law

The Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2010 put hate-motivated offences against LGBT people, as well as disabled people, on the same footing as incidents aggravated by racial or religious intolerance (laws for which already existed). Stonewall Scotland’s campaigning and years of hard work helped to secure unanimous support for this bill in the Scottish Parliament.

This law means that if you’re assaulted or harrassed because of your sexual orientation or gender identity - if you get verbal or physical abuse, threats, or your possessions’s graffitied or vandalised - and you report it to police, they have a duty to note the motivation behind what happened and take it seriously.

It means that when someone does something that’s already a crime – from a breach of the peace right through to murder – for homophobic or transphobic reasons, sheriffs and judges can take account of this motivation in sentencing.

Why is it important to report hate crimes? 

Every time you report a hate incident, that report gives the police a clearer picture of homophobic and transphobic hate crime, both in your community and across Scotland. Telling someone about what happened means you’re standing up for your rights and those of other LGBT people in Scotland. When you report the incident, the person you report it to will also be able to put you in touch with support services, if you want or need them. Every report that’s made plays an important part in raising awareness and changing attitudes for the better.

We know that one in six lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Scotland have experienced a homophobic hate crime in the last three years, however three in four LGB people still don't report hate incidents to the police.

Read guidance on what to do if you've experienced a homophobic hate crime or incident, Blow the Whistle on Gay Hate (Easy Read Version available here) 


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