What is hate crime? Legal definition, current law and how to report hate crime against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people in Scotland.
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LGBT Hate Crime

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is a crime motivated by malice or ill will towards a social group by

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

This could include physical assault or abuse, verbal abuse, harassment or damage to property.

Hate crimes cannot be charged as a specific offence of, for example, homophobically motivated harassment. Instead perpetrators of hate crimes would be charged with existing offences, such as assault, and the homophobic motivation would be taken into account during sentencing.

If an offence is believed to have been motivated by hostility or prejudice based on sexual orientation or gender identity (actual or perceived) the judge is required to:

  • Treat this as an aggravating factor
  • State in open court any extra elements of the sentence that they are giving for the aggravation.

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

"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

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.

Hate Crime Reporting Posters

Reporting a Hate Crime

You can report a hate crime in various ways. You can approach Police Scotland directly, or if you want to report the offence anonymously you can do so online or via your local third party reporting centre.

How to report hate crime: 10 reasons why you really should

More information about reporting a hate crime is available here.

For further information please contact Stonewall Stonewall on 0131 474 8019 or email info@stonewallscotland.org.uk.