Hate crimes against LGBTI people reached record high levels in Scotland between 2018-19.
1,216 anti-LGBTI hate crimes were reported in Scotland from 31 March 2018 to the same date this year.
This is a 5% rise on the previous year. It is also the highest recorded number since hate crime legislation came into effect in Scotland 10 years ago.
The number of reported hate crimes have soared in the capital, Edinburgh, and northeast city, Dundee. The Highlands, the Borders and West Scotland also saw increases.
A Dundee-based LGBTI rights activist has speculated that the current political climate may have contributed to the rise in hate crimes, Pink Saltire reported.
Edinburgh and Dundee experience a spike in anti-LGBTI hate crimes
The figures were released by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, which detail which crimes were aggravated by sexual orientation or gender identity.
The overwhelming number of hate crimes had sexual orientation elements, with 1,176 being reported.
This was contrasted by 40 hate crimes which were related to trans or gender identity. This is a 20% decrease on the previous year’s number, which totaled 52.
Hate crimes in Edinburgh have risen by more than a third since 2015. There were 221 offenses reported in the city in 2018.
In Dundee, the number of reported hate crimes jumped from 29 to 49 in only 12 months. This showed a 69% increase in anti-LGBTI hate crime in the city.
Dundee hosted its first major LGBTI event, Dundee Pride, in September last year.
‘We need to keep increasing visibility of ourselves everywhere’
Edinburgh resident, Michael Richardson, said the numbers show the need for vigilance among Scotland’s LGBTI community and its allies.
‘We need to keep increasing visibility of ourselves everywhere, at all times. Companies and businesses need to step up too, not just in this Pride month, in showing support,’ Richardson told Scottish LGBTI media site, Pink Saltire.
‘I do think there’s more chance of a bystander stepping in or getting involved than was the case maybe 10 years ago.’
‘I do see more same-sex couples holding hands here than ever before, which is great. But I always feel a little protective or worried for the couple in case something happens,’ Richardson added.
Tim Kelly, the Co-Chair of Dundee Pride, Tim Kelly, speculated as to whether the UK’s polarising political climate had fueled the rise in hate crimes.
‘Perhaps the climate that seems to celebrate misogyny, racism, homophobia and transphobia has given permission to people holding such prejudices to act on them,’ Kelly said.
‘Or perhaps such public support for LGBT people, demonstrated at the first Dundee Pride, has empowered people to report these crimes, rather than suffering in shame or silence.
‘Regardless of the reason, even one hate crime is too many. The statistics demonstrate that though LGBT equality has advanced greatly in the 50 years since the Stonewall riots, we still have a long way to go.’
Overall fall in hate crimes in Scotland
Despite the rise in anti-LGBTI hate crimes from 2018-19, the overall number of hate crimes in Scotland decreased in the same time period.
There were 4,616 reported hate crimes in total, the lowest the number has been since hate crime legislation was introduced.
A number of cities and towns in Scotland saw improvements. This includes Perth, Livingston, Paisley, Forfar, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen and Dumfries.
In 2016, Police Scotland have said that combatting anti-LGBTI hate crimes was a ‘priority’. Equality Scotland have provided training to the country’s police force to help them deal with LGBTI-related issues.
Scotland is often considered as one of the most LGBTI-friendly countries in the world.
Last year, the Scottish government announced plans to introduce LGBTI curriculums in schools across the country. The move was largely considered a world first.
Scotland has also championed numerous political and cultural pro-LGBTI initiatives.