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 hassled because of your sexual orientation or gender - if you get verbal or physical abuse, threats, or your stuff’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.
The hate crime legislation creates no new offence. 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.
What matters under law is the motivation of a criminal, not the victim's identity - in other words, it doesn’t actually matter whether or not the victim is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, only that the attacker thought they were and targeted them out of hatred.
Stonewall Scotland, the Equality Network and EHRC Scotland have produced a plain English guide which tells you more about how to recognise hate crime, what the law means, and how to report a hate crime. Halt Hate Crime also includes contact details for police forces and remote reporting sites in Scotland.
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 challenging people who think Scottish lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people should be in the closet or afraid. When you report the incident, the person you report it to will 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 more than one in three lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Scotland have been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
It's time for the hate to stop.