Hate crime has no place in Scotland
The impact of hate crime has hugely damaging effects on victims, families and communities.
Whether it’s rooted in sexual orientation, racism, islamophobia or any other form, it is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. Quite simply, there is no place for hate crime.
Hate Crime Awareness Week is important because intolerance and prejudice can weave itself into so many parts of our society.
The week is being promoted across the UK, with a huge amount of activity taking place including conferences, competitions, campaigns and events.
At its heart, it aims to encourage people to be aware of hate crime and to report it.
Whether you experience it or are a witness, reporting it is important because it challenges behaviour where it can be most effective – where hate occurs.
This can be done by contacting the police by phoning 101, visiting your local police station or using their online reporting form.
If you do not feel comfortable reporting a hate crime directly to Police Scotland, third party reporting allows you to tell them about an incident without contacting them directly.
There are third party reporting centres across Scotland. Ranging from housing associations to victim support offices and voluntary groups, specially trained staff are on hand to provide support and assistance in submitting a report to Police Scotland on your behalf.
Another positive effect is the more people that report hate crime the more data and evidence it provides. This gives us a better insight into what is happening in our communities and allows us to come up with more effective ways to prevent it.
I recognise the signals we send out as a Government are important. Scotland is taking leadership to set the standards and the structures that build the equal and fair society I firmly believe Scotland can be.
That is why we will update our hate crime legislation so that it is fit for 21st century Scotland and, most importantly, affords sufficient protection for those that need it.
Having clear legislation about hate crime sends a strong message. It makes it clear to victims, to communities and to wider society that certain criminal behaviour is not acceptable in society.
In addition we have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism and are also consulting on adopting a definition of Islamophobia. We are also considering what more we can do to better protect faith communities and their places of worship.
I am proud that Scotland is an open and inclusive nation, but we are not immune to hateful behaviour and prejudicial attitudes. We should all take time to reflect on our own attitudes towards others and ultimately the society we want Scotland to be.
All too often, people in our communities face discrimination and abuse. We all must play our part in challenging such behaviour and to stand united to tackle all forms of hatred and prejudice.
Together we can achieve our shared vision of an inclusive, resilient ‘One Scotland’, where everyone feels safe, valued and connected and where hate crime and prejudice ends.