Policy actions  3 of 4

Sectarianism

Sectarianism continues to blight communities across Scotland. We are committed to doing all we can to build a sectarian-free country and we will directly involve communities to do this.

Supporting anti-sectarian projects

Since 2012 we have invested £14 million of funding to support work to tackle sectarianism.

This has allowed organisations to test approaches and deliver anti-sectarian education in schools, prisons, workplaces and communities. For more information see the action on sectarianism website.

The work has also included the development of Scotland's first national education resource on tackling sectarianism, available on the Education Scotland website.

Our work to tackle sectarianism contributes to recommendations made in the 2015 report by the Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland: Tackling sectarianism and its consequences in Scotland

Recommendations were not simply aimed at the Scottish Government, but at a wide range of institutions across Scottish society.

Eighteen months on from the publication of the Advisory Group's final report, former chair Professor Duncan Morrow reviewed progress made across all of the sectors the recommendations were aimed at.

Legal definition of sectarianism

We set up an independent working group following a recommendation by the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee to consider if a legal definition of ‘sectarianism’ was required to aid police and prosecutors.

The working group, chaired by Professor Morrow, published its report in November 2018.

The report recommended that sectarianism be defined in law through the introduction of a new statutory aggravation of sectarian prejudice. A draft definition was proposed by the working group to be consulted on and considered by Scottish Ministers.

Sectarianism and hate crime

We invited views on the legal definition of sectarianism working group's conclusions as part of a wider consultation on reforms to hate crime legislation.

The consultation, which ran between November 2018 and February 2019, also covered the question of whether hate crime laws should be extended to cover sectarianism. 

We have published an analysis of views received and are considering responses, before we make a decision.