Local newspaper the Reformer found, through a Freedom of Information request, that out of the 127 crimes recorded as “sexual orientation/transgender” committed across the region, 69 happened in these two towns.
The numbers account for crimes registered between 2011 and 2014. However, accordingly to equality charity Stonewall Scotland, as many as two-thirds of homophobic attacks may go unreported, meaning the actual figure in the area could be much higher.
In 2011, 18 incidents were recorded in those two towns. In 2012 numbers dropped to just 10. But in 2013 figures jumped to 20 incidents, before rising again last year to 21 registered crimes.
We all have a duty to challenge homophobia.
Rutherglen South Labour councillor, Gerard Killen, who campaigns on issues of equality and diversity, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “It shouldn’t be too much to ask that people can live in our area without fear of being attacked because of their sexuality. We all have a duty to challenge homophobia.
“I am encouraged that these crimes are being reported and I know that our local police have a good record in identifying hate crimes.
“It can be very difficult to report homophobic abuse and, despite progress, many incidents still go unreported.
“I want to encourage people to speak out if they are being victimised because of their sexuality. Hate crimes should always be reported to Police Scotland but support is also available from charities such as Stonewall and from South Lanarkshire Council’s anti-social behaviour team on 0800 389 1105.
“My door is also always open to those in the LGBT community seeking support.”
Inspector Jim Gillespie at Rutherglen Police also speaking to the Daily Record said: “It is completely unacceptable for any member of the community to be subjected to abuse, either verbally or physically on the basis of their sexual orientation.
“Any form of hate crime is a priority for Police Scotland and I would encourage people to have the confidence to report this to the police. We will do all that we can do to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice.”