Page last updated at 00:00 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

New survey says most gay people suffer "hate crime"

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Most gay and transgender people do not report attacks against them

Most lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been verbally abused and a third physically attacked, according to a new survey.

The statistics from Stonewall Scotland suggested most people did not report the incidents to the police.

A quarter of those surveyed said they viewed verbal abuse as part of life as a gay or transgender person.

The findings come just before a new law is introduced which aims to tackle hate crimes against gay or disabled people.

The legislation which will be implemented on Wednesday will take a tougher line on crimes which have been motivated because of the victims' sexuality or gender orientation, or because they have a disability.

We're working with the police to give people the confidence to come forward and report crime
Carl Watt
Stonewall Scotland

Carl Watt, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: "Too many people in Scotland experience hate crimes, and many don't report it because they think it won't make a difference or because it happens on such a regular basis."

Stonewall's survey suggests that 88% of people who experienced verbal abuse did not report it, and 61% of those physically attacked did not inform police.

Carl Watt added: "As this new law tackling hate crime comes into force, we're working with the police to give people the confidence to come forward and report crime."

As part of this process Stonewall Scotland has offered every Scottish police force rainbow flag stickers to show the public the police force is committed to equality for everyone.

No excuse

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "There is no excuse for any form of hate crime; it is simply not acceptable and it will not be tolerated.

"That is exactly why we've got this new legislation coming into force which will rightly put these kind of crimes on the same footing as racist incidents."

Chief Constable Ian Latimer, from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, acknowledged the Stonewall survey and said he noted the concerns highlighted by the people who took part in the questionnaire.

He said: "Forces across Scotland take hate crime very seriously and are proactively developing policy and practice to address discrimination.

"We trust these measures, in addition to the new legislation will give all victims the confidence to report crime and know that they will receive a high quality police response."

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