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Prevention and Eradication of Hate Crime and Prejudice

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th November 2016.

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Photo of Annie Wells Annie Wells Conservative

As I say, we have not actually done anything to trigger article 50 yet, so we do not know what the other EU countries are going to say either. We can say that the Prime Minister has stated that it is her full intention and expectation that EU citizens will be protected. That is what I can say about that. I do not think that any of us in the chamber can say any more at the moment because nothing has been done yet.

To move away from racially aggravated hate crime, I would like to bring attention to other forms of hate crime that have been so conveniently ignored by the SNP. The report by the independent advisory group, which was welcomed by Angela Constance, raises a number of issues regarding Scotland’s tackling of hate crime—namely, that although racially aggravated hate crime has not increased, the number of hate crimes reported relating to disability and sexual orientation are rapidly on the increase.

The “Hate Crime in Scotland 2015-16” report noted that although race hate crime has decreased by 3 per cent since 2014-15, sexual orientation hate crime has risen by an alarming 20 per cent. That is backed up by the TIE—time for inclusive education—campaign’s research, which reported that 64 per cent of LGBTI youth reported being bullied as a result of their gender identity or sexual orientation and that a shocking 37 per cent had attempted suicide at least once as a result of the bullying.

Although I welcome the great work that has been done by the Equality Network and Police Scotland in a programme that intends to provide training for police officers as LGBTI liaison officers, more needs to be done.

When the advisory report itself states that schools need to be better equipped to tackle LGBTI bullying, the Scottish Government should, at the very least, open up the debate about inclusive education as a legislative measure.

We need more than the First Minister tokenistically attaching herself to LGBTI campaigns and then doing nothing in the way of following through with policies.

Furthermore, I want to talk about hate crime directed at transgender people specifically. The advisory report flags important issues regarding transgender people: according to statistical analysis, hate crime against transgender people is notably underreported in Scotland as compared with England.

Another figure that I am sure will raise concern is that disability hate crime has risen by an alarming 14 per cent in the last year alone—another form of hate crime that continues to be underreported. Frank Mulholland QC warned the SNP-led Government in 2014 that not enough was being done in terms of law enforcement and that disabled people were not confident enough in the system to report such crimes.

Another issue that I would like to raise is online bullying. It is an issue that we can all agree has grown exponentially in the last decade, so why are we still awaiting the Scottish Government’s updated internet safety action plan—last published in 2010?

Given the SNP’s rhetoric and its obsession with trying to link racial hate crime with Brexit, it is no surprise to learn that participants in the study felt that some types of hate crime received more attention and were better understood than others.

That is why I call on the SNP Government to stop the Brexit bashing—the end goal of which we all know—and to address the hate crimes that it has so conveniently turned a blind eye to.

Disability hate crime is on the rise and sexual orientation hate crime is on the rise. The motion—