Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021: information note

This information note provides a high level summary of the key changes that are made by the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021.

3. Existing hate crime law

In Scotland, the law currently recognises hate crime based on prejudice towards the following characteristics: race, religion, disability, transgender identity and sexual orientation.

Hate crime can target a particular person or an entire group. Where a crime is committed against a person, you don’t have to be a member of the targeted group/s to be a victim of hate crime, as the law applies to crimes based on someone’s belief about your identity, even if that is incorrect.

Hate crime can be verbal, physical or written and can take place anywhere in public or in private – including online.

The current law addresses offences in three main ways. First, an aggravated offence. Any offence may be “aggravated” by hatred towards individuals with the characteristics listed above. This means that an offence is committed, such as breach of the peace or assault, which is motivated by prejudice towards a person’s identity. There are also two standalone offences: racially aggravated harassment and stirring up of racial hatred.


Email: georgina.alford@gov.scot

Back to top