However, sexual orientation aggravated crime is the second most common type of hate crime, behind racism (which dropped from last year) and surpassing ones based on religion, revealed statistics published yesterday by the Scottish government.
In 2014-15, 841 charges were reported with an aggravation of prejudice relating to sexual orientation, 5% fewer than in 2013-14. This is the first annual fall in charges reported since the legislation introducing this aggravation came into force in 2010.
Court proceedings were commenced in respect of 89% of charges (or 94% including those not separately prosecuted, but which may have been incorporated into other charges for the same accused). No action was taken in respect of 3% of charges.
In 2014-15, 21 charges were reported with an aggravation of prejudice relating to transgender identity. There was a slight decrease (not statistically significant) to last year (25 cases). Court proceedings were commenced in respect of 19 of the 21 charges (including one not separately prosecuted, but which may have been incorporated into other charges for the same accused).
However hate crime based on an aggravation of prejudice relating to disability was up 20% on last year.
Minister for Community Safety Paul Wheelhouse said “Religious crimes are down, race crimes are down, crimes in relation to sexuality are down”, but added that the Scottish Government will not be complacent even though “I believe the legislation is working.”
“That is why we are making a substantial investment into grass roots community projects which are working to stamp out such behaviour.”
Commenting on the news, Rob McDowall, chair of the Scottish Charity LGBT Network, told KaleidoScot: “While I am pleased to read that LGBT reported hate crime has reduced in Scotland last year, I am dismayed to see that crimes motivated by prejudice against disabled people have not.
“It is clear the Offences (Aggravated by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act is having some impact but the figures highlight there is still significant work to be done on challenging hate towards disabled people and those identifying as transgender within Scotland.
“I am sure Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service recognise that there is a stark difference between reported crimes and those actually taking place.
“The most vulnerable within our society are often more reluctant to make unsupported complaints and much more attention needs to be taken to recognise and record those victims targeted due to more than one characteristic.
“It is clear, in general terms, that Scotland is becoming a much more tolerant and accepting society and this legislation offers no hiding place to those committing crimes motivated by prejudice.”