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New legislation to deal with hate crime – including “stirring up” hatred – has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.
The Hate Crime Bill covers offences on grounds such as race, religion and sexual orientation.
A standalone offence of misogynistic harassment is also being looked at.
It follows an independent review by judge Lord Bracadale, in which he recommended that age and gender should be added to hate crime legislation.
People are currently protected by specific laws on the basis of:
- Race (and related characteristics)
- Sexual orientation
- Transgender identity
The new bill adds age to the list and would allow gender to be added at a later date.
Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf described the new bill as “an important milestone” in protecting victims.
He said: “By creating robust laws for the justice system, Parliament will send a strong message to victims, perpetrators, communities and to wider society that offences motivated by prejudice will be treated seriously and will not be tolerated.
“Stirring up of hatred can contribute to a social atmosphere in which discrimination is accepted as normal.
“Our legislation, if passed, would offer greater protection for those who experience this kind of behaviour.”
Police Scotland has confirmed that it recorded 92 transgender hate crimes in the year to March 2019, compared with 76 two years earlier.
Meanwhile, a report from the Crown Office said there were 284 charges aggravated by disability prejudice in 2017-18.
Mr Yousaf added that every citizen had a responsibility “to challenge prejudice in order to ensure Scotland is the inclusive and respectful society we want it to be”.
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