Transphobia included in hate crime crackdown

A new anti-hate crime campaign which includes a specific warning to those who attack transgender people has been launched by the Scottish Government and Police Scotland.

The initiative comes as research shows just over half of people would report intimidating or humiliating behaviour towards a person who considers their gender to be different from their sex at birth.

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A poster with the message “Dear transphobes, we have a phobia of your hatred. Yours, Scotland” is among those which have begun appearing across the country, also focusing on racism, homophobia and hate crimes against people with disabilities.

Hate crime victims speak of the importance of speaking out.

Launching the campaign in Edinburgh yesterday, justice secretary Humza Yousaf, said: “As somebody who has faced Islamaphobic and racial abuse over the years, I know how upsetting being a victim of hate can be. Hate crime and prejudice are completely unacceptable and we are absolutely committed to tackling it.

“We all have a role to play in stamping out prejudice and I would ask anyone who witnesses a hate crime to play their part and report it.”

He added: “Justice agencies such the police and Crown Office will deal sensitively with reports made and people should have confidence in how they will be treated.”

The campaign features a series of “letters” written from the perspective of hate crime witnesses. As well as a poster campaign, the initiative will also include radio advertising and social media posts.

A survey of 1,000 people over the age of 16 in Scotland earlier this month found only 43 per cent would tell the police about online bullying due to someone’s religion.

Henrietta Mochrie, who took part in yesterday’s launch, said: “I’ve experienced so many incidents of hate crime because I’m transgender.

“I’ll often get street harassment, sometimes this has escalated to the point where I’ve been followed by people shouting abuse at me, just because of who I am. It makes me feel really down and scared to leave the house. It’s important that if you witness hate crime that you report it to take a stand against hate.”

Chief Superintendent John McKenzie said: “Police Scotland treats all hate-related crimes and incidents as a priority.

“It is recognised that hate-related crimes and incidents pose a significant threat to victims, their friends, families and wider communities.

“We continue to work tirelessly to ensure we respond to all reports of hate crime and I would encourage anyone who has been the victim of, or witnessed, a hate crime to report it.”