We continue to work towards a sectarian-free Scotland by supporting a wide range of activity in formal and informal settings. That includes supporting work by organisations such as Nil by Mouth, Supporters Direct Scotland and the sense over sectarianism campaign. We are supporting the delivery of Scotland’s first national education resource for tackling sectarianism, which is freely available to all. That work builds on a record investment of £13.5 million over the past six years, which has supported 120 projects to deliver anti-sectarian education and activity across Scotland. We continue to see a positive impact in the communities that are benefiting from that work.
The cabinet secretary may be aware that, on Tuesday evening last week, I convened the first meeting of the cross-party group on combating sectarianism in Scottish society. It was great to be joined by fellow MSPs from the Scottish National Party, the Scottish Conservatives and the Greens, as well as by external members from the Church of Scotland, Nil by Mouth, the Scottish Women’s Convention, the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council and others.
I am encouraged by the work of the Scottish Government in addressing sectarianism and I welcome last week’s publication of the final report on the legal definition of sectarianism. However, does the cabinet secretary agree that the only way we can end sectarianism is by working together as a society? Will he commit to work with the cross-party group in the future?
Yes, I will commit to work with the CPG in the future.
I want to take a moment to put on record the outstanding work that James Dornan has done personally to tackle sectarianism. As is evident to those of us who are on social media, he has taken a huge amount of personal abuse for standing up to sectarianism in Scotland. He should be commended on that. He has dealt with that with a huge amount of dignity.
I am very pleased that James Dornan has convened the cross-party group and I am pleased to see that there is cross-party consensus that we must tackle the problem of sectarianism. I hope that he and the group will come to a view on how best to tackle the problem. The Government will work closely with him on that.
The Government is working on legislation on hate crime and we are considering sectarianism and whether to introduce a statutory aggravator of sectarian prejudice. The consultation is currently under way and we will keep an open mind on that. Whenever we can assist in relation to the law or—as Mr Dornan suggests—education, I will be willing to consider any good ideas that come forward, whether from the CPG or from Parliament.