It’s hard to believe in 21st century Scotland that people are still attacked for who they are. But for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Scots that sadly is the case in 2013. The recent assaults in and around Edinburgh’s gay scene are yet another instance where LGBT people are attacked because of who they are – and the sad reality is that these aren’t isolated cases. How Safe Are You? – Stonewall Scotland’s research into lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’s experiences of community safety – found that more than one in three had experienced a physical attack. However, 70 per cent did not report it to anyone.
Physical violence isn’t the only abuse that LGBT people experience. More than two in three say they’ve received verbal abuse – but worryingly a quarter of respondents in the same research said it did not seem worth reporting to the police as it was just part of an LGBT person’s life living in Scotland. Stonewall Scotland doesn’t agree. No LGBT person should feel unsafe walking around in their local community just because of who they are.
We strongly recommend that every hate crime and incident is reported to the police. Even if they cannot find a suspect, it helps them to gather facts, figures and statistics, build links with the local community, identify hotspots for these types of incidents and gain a greater picture of homophobic incidents that are occurring.
Scotland is a country we should all be able to take pride in. Homophobic hate crime and incidents blight the country for all of us. If you have abuse shouted at you, or you are attacked because someone thinks you are LGBT, report it. It doesn’t matter whether you are LGBT or not – if the person attacking or abusing you is doing so because they think you are LGBT then they are committing a hate crime, and this can be tackled. But it will only be through working together with the police and community groups that hate crime in Scotland will be banished to the past.
Colin Macfarlane is director, Stonewall Scotland