HATE crimes against the LGBT community in Scotland are rising as police figures show an over 100% increase in attacks with a transgender aggravator in the space of a single year.

The number of reports to the force with a sexual orientation aggravator have also risen in 2021-22 by 9.9%.

Hate crimes with a race aggravator remain the highest number overall in Scotland, accounting for 58.2% (4012) of all reports in the last year, but have been on a downward trend since 2017-18.

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Over the same period, hate crimes with a transgender, sexual orientation or disability aggravator have steadily risen.

In response to the figures, Police Scotland said that "targeting anyone for who they are is deplorable" and that hate crimes will "not be tolerated".

The Scottish Greens said the figures were “no coincidence” at a time when “hostile and ill informed” discussion around trans issues has “ramped up” as the Gender Recognition Act makes its way through the Scottish Parliament.

Police Scotland’s final quarterly report for the year 2021-22 revealed that during that period the force recorded 150 hate crimes with a transgender aggravator, up from 74 on the previous year - a 102.7% increase. 

This equates to 2.2% of all hate crime reports in Scotland, but is the largest percentage increase of any aggravator.

For hate crimes with a sexual orientation aggravator there were 1583 reported to the force in the previous year, up from 1440. This had started to fall in 2018-19 (1029 reports), but has gradually been increasing since.

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Disability-related hate crimes, which the report suggests are linked to “mask wearing exemptions” during the Covid-19 pandemic, saw the second largest rise in the previous year, from 335 in 2020-21 to 432 in 2021-22 (+29%).

In reference to the sharp increase of transgender and disability hate crimes, the report adds: “Due to the relatively low number of crimes in these categories, small volumetric increases can result in larger proportional change.

“Precise reasons for these trends are unclear, but both categories have seen increased political and media coverage over the last year.”

However, the figures are likely just the tip of the iceberg, as LGBT Youth Scotland’s “Life In Scotland” report earlier this year states that of participants surveyed who were victims of hate crime in 2021 - only 11% reported this to the police.

Out of 1279 participants, 38% said they had been a victim of a hate crime in the 12 months prior. Of transgender participants, 49% said they had experienced a hate crime or incident, this was compared to just 26% of cisgender participants. The report also noted that amongst participants there was a decrease in those who would feel comfortable reporting a hate crime.

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Some of the reasons for this included that they “believed that their report would not be taken seriously, or that any incident they reported would not be worth wasting police time for unless it was 'severe enough' to be worth the effort”.

Maggie Chapman MSP, Scottish Greens justice spokesperson, said: "The sharp increase in transgender related hate crime recently should deeply concern everyone.

“It's no coincidence that the rise in hate crimes has occurred at the same time as hostile, ill-informed discussion on trans issues in the media and on social media has ramped up.

The National: Chapman said the rise in hate crimes was "no coincidence"Chapman said the rise in hate crimes was "no coincidence" (Image: Jamie Simpson, NQ staff)

"As parliament works through the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, this must serve as a reminder to politicians that they have a responsibility not to stoke up this issue: that those who have weaponised hatred against trans people - for whatever reason - must stop now.

"Scottish Greens are proud that our cooperation agreement with the Scottish Government means reform of the Gender Recognition Act will deliver long awaited improvements and allow trans people more control over their own lives.

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"Similar legislation has already been passed in numerous other countries without issue and it's time for Scotland to catch up."

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Targeting anyone because of who they are is deplorable. Hate crime should have no place in society and will not be tolerated. 

“Everyone has a right to live safely as their true and authentic selves, without fear of prejudice.

The National: A Police Scotland officer alongside a Glasgow Pride participant in 2021 A Police Scotland officer alongside a Glasgow Pride participant in 2021

“We understand it can be hard for people to report a hate crime, and in some cases to even recognise or acknowledge that they have been a victim. Some people have been exposed to hate crimes for weeks, months or even years before they are able to report.

“Every complaint is professionally and thoroughly investigated and we treat people who bravely come forward with sensitivity, respect and dignity. We also offer further support to victims of crime through referrals to a number of partners.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These figures are a reminder of why we are tackling hate and prejudice towards our LGBTI communities head on.

“Whilst the rise in transgender identity and sexual orientation aggravation hate crimes may be attributed to a greater frequency of crimes occurring, it may also be attributed to an increased confidence in the reporting of instances of hate crime to the police – something that we actively encourage.”