HOMOPHOBIC attacks in Scotland have almost doubled over the last decade, according to figures uncovered by the Sunday National.

Last year, according to statistics released under Freedom of Information legislation, there were 1205 crimes recorded by Police Scotland where sexual orientation was an aggravator.

In 2009-10, there were 666.

The figure for 2019 also marks an increase on the previous two years.

In 2018 there were 1167 crimes, up from 1142 in 2017.

However, a spokeswoman for Police Scotland admitted the true figure was likely even higher: “Police Scotland is fully committed to reviewing and investigating all reports of hate.

“It is only through reporting offences that we can form a more complete picture of the issue and address it, however we are aware that hate crime is still under reported. We run regular campaigns and work with partners to increase public knowledge of hate crime, raise awareness of reporting methods and influence offender behaviour.

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“I would urge anyone who has been a victim of or witness to a hate incident to contact the police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency or via one of our third party reporting organisations on the Police Scotland website.”

Speaking to The National, the SNP MP Hannah Bardell said she had recently been the victim of an LGBTQ+ hate crime while in Edinburgh with her partner, an incident which she had reported to police.

She said the country had made huge progress in recent years, but that there was still a “journey to travel”.

“I have a firm belief that Scotland is an open and inclusive society but that does not mean that there are not corners where there are still challenges,” she said.

Bardell added: “It’s incredibly sad to see these figures but we’ve got to remember that it will be a mixed picture of people being more aware, and more people reporting.

“But there are still challenges and we can never hide from that.”

The National: Hannah Bardell, MP, said Scotland is inclusive, but there are still challenges left to faceHannah Bardell, MP, said Scotland is inclusive, but there are still challenges left to face

In 2018, Blair Wilson was attacked while walking on Main Street in his home town of Neilston, East Renfrewshire.

Police said a man shouted homophobic abuse at him before approaching him and kicking and punching his face and body.

He won praise for not cowering away from the attack but posting a photo online of him smiling despite having blood running down his face.

Last year the gay owners of a speciality cake shop were forced to call in police after being targeted by homophobic hate mail.

The letter, sent to Special Days Cakes in Uddingston, was sent anonymously and opened with “Dear Poofs”. It goes on to say “I don’t want any of your hands near any food – you should be shut down”.

Hate crime figures published by the Crown Office last June revealed that racial crime remains the most commonly reported hate crime in Scotland with 2880 charges in 2018-19.

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There were 529 charges reported with a religious aggravation.

In addition, there were 289 charges related to disability and 40 charges related to transgender identity.

Commenting at the time, Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf said the Government was “resolved to do everything it takes to ensure that Scotland is a place where there is zero tolerance of any form of hate crime or prejudice”.

He added: “We also know that many incidents go unreported and we are determined to avoid a culture of acceptance.”