In Scotland, we’re pretty well protected by our hate crime laws, right?
If someone attacks us, abuses us, or targets us for a crime simply because we’re LGBT, or because of our faith, race or disability, then the law protects us, and allows stricter penalties to be applied. So far so good.
Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t always work like that. Not because the laws in place are bad, but because for whatever reasons, people aren’t always using them to report incidents when they happen. We can also only guess year on year whether any increase in reported hate crimes reflects more actual crimes, or simply more people reporting them.
It’s so important that LGBT people across Scotland take part in this consultation.
Earlier this year the Scottish Government announced that it was going to commission an independent review of hate crime in Scotland, to make sure that it is doing its job to protect our different communities.
It’s so important that LGBT people across Scotland take part in this consultation to make sure that our laws are effective in keeping you safe, and helping you feel confident to speak to the police when problems do arise.
Still need convincing why it matters? Here are our top 5 reasons why you really should take part:
1. No one should live in fear of being targeted simply for who they are, full stop.
It really is that simple. Yet we know that every day LGBT people make decisions to hide, or mask their identity in an attempt to stay safe. A quarter of lesbian, gay and bi people feel the need to alter their behaviour to avoid being a victim of crime. Fear for their safety can be a real concern for some trans people feeling safe to even leave their house. That might be not holding your partner’s hand, or dressing differently, or avoiding going to certain places. We need to ensure that our laws give people the confidence to be themselves free from abuse.
2. Current hate crime legislation can be confusing.
Many people aren’t sure what counts as a hate crime, how they are protected, or how they can prove it. They often don’t realise that what they have experienced is an offence, or that the police could do anything about it. The police can do something, and they should.
3. The majority of victims don’t report to anyone, let alone the police.
Too many people still don’t feel confident to report, or don’t know what will happen if they do. If this is the case for you, it will really help if you can share your story as part of this consultation. And if you have reported a hate crime, what made you feel confident to do that, and what was your experience like?
4.Many trans people are afraid to report out of fear of being outed publicly or receiving further harassment and abuse
Half of trans people would be uncomfortable being open about their gender identity to the police if they were a victim of a crime, which may make it very difficult for them to tell the police if they had been targeted for being trans. The criminal justice system must send a clear message that they will treat everyone with fairness, dignity and respect.
5.Too many people still accept being targeted or abused as simply something you have to live with if you’re LGBT
41 per cent of lesbian, gay and bi people who didn’t report a hate crime said it was because they didn’t think it was serious enough to report. Almost one in five said it happened too often to report it. We need to stand together as a community and say that being targeted for being different is never okay.