VSS urges MSPs to ‘stand up for victims’ and support Hate Crime Bill

15 December, 2020

Scotland’s largest organisation providing support for people affected by crime, Victim Support Scotland, is urging MSPs to consider the impact of hate crime on victims and support the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill which is being debated this afternoon.

Hate crime can cause people physical, emotional and psychological harm; housing, employment and financial issues; fear, shame, hyper vigilance, isolation, movement restriction, suicide ideation and more. It not only negatively impacts individual victims, but whole communities and marginalised social groups.

A Victim Support Scotland service user, who is being continually physically and verbally threatened in their local community due to their race and sexual identity, said:

“He’s attacking me and my family because of who we are and what we look like. It hurts. I can’t change who I am.”

Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland, said:

“There has been a great deal of discussion surrounding the hate crime legislation since it was first introduced but most of this fails to take into account the experiences of victims and people from marginalised communities.

“For victims, the impact of hate crime can be more devastating and longer lasting than that of other types of crime because an aspect of their core identity and sense of belonging is attacked. We need robust legislation to ensure hate crime is not tolerated in Scotland.

“I am therefore urging MSPs from all political parties to stand up for victims, listen to the voices of those who have helped to shape this legislation, and support the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1.

“If this Bill is not allowed to proceed through Parliament, it may be years, even decades, before victims of hate crime have another chance to be given the protections they deserve.”

The Hate Crime Bill seeks to modernise, consolidate and extend existing hate crime law ensuring it is fit for Scotland. The legislation updates the list of characteristics protected under hate crime legislation and proposes the addition of age to this list – where there is a statutory aggravation for offences motivated by prejudice.

Hate crime can have a long-lasting impact on individuals, families and communities, leading to a sense isolation and powerlessness. Victim Support Scotland can help.

Our services are free, confidential and available to everyone, regardless of background. Anyone affected by hate crime and hate incidents, who does not want to report to the police directly, can use Victim Support Scotland’s Third Party Reporting services across the country. Please contact us for a confidential chat on 0800 160 1985 or access our website.

Ahead of the debate, Victim Support Scotland provided MSPs with a written briefing.

Whoever you are and whatever the crime, we’re here to help