A VICTIM of hate crime has told of the moment she was verbally abused on a city bus.
Cathleen Lauder, who is transgender, was making her way into the city centre to go shopping in April this year when three passengers began subjecting her to “silly songs” and abusive remarks.
The 39-year-old, who lives in Edinburgh, is used to receiving dirty looks on a regular basis but, following this incident, was left feeling extremely “low”.
After becoming “fed up” with the way people were treating her, Cathleen decided to report the incident to police.
This week, she has decided to speak out about her experience as Police Scotland announce that eight officers in Edinburgh are now trained to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.
“While I was on the bus I managed to hold it together,” Cathleen said.
“They started picking on me I soon as I got on, I was just going into town for a bit of shopping. They looked like they were in their early thirties.
“The whole journey they were singing silly songs, and calling me names, it was horrible and really hurt my feelings.
“I get dirty looks from people regularly, but it wasn’t until this happened that it really sank in what they were saying.
“I decided to report it to the police when I got off the bus.”
Earlier this year, the Equality Network trained more than 90 police officers across Scotland to care for the LGBTI community. Staff are now working throughout the city, providing support and advice in local areas.
Police Scotland are hoping this will encourage more victims of hate crime to report their experiences and feel reassured that officers will have their best interests at heart.
Tim Hopkins, Equality Network director, said: “We were happy to provide training on LGBTI hate crime issues to nearly 100 police officers across Scotland earlier this year, and it’s great to see that Police Scotland have now set up a national network of Liaison Officers.
“This will help LGBTI people have the confidence to report hate incidents to the police, and will mean that there should always be a police officer they can make contact with who has an understanding of LGBTI issues.”
Cathleen added: “I think having officers specifically trained to deal with the LGBTI community is very reassuring.
“I do think most people in the LGBTI community would feel safe talking to them.”
Constable Greig Stephen became the first LGBTI liaison officer across the national force last year.
He said: “There was a recognition that hate crime within the LGBTI community was under reported.
“Hate crime can happen in a variety of ways and victims are often not confident enough to report it.
“We hope this will encourage more people to come forward so we can eventually eradicate it.”