Scotland is a diverse, multicultural and multi-faith country, but that does not mean we are immune to hatred and prejudice. Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on acts that have strengthened community cohesion – where people from all walks of life have come together to support one another – we have also borne witness to deplorable moments of intolerance; moments where some of our minority communities have been harassed, abused and physically attacked just because of who they are, who they love, what they believe, or where they are from. This is not acceptable in a modern, 21st-century Scotland.
No one should have to live in fear or be made to feel like they don't belong.
The Scottish Government continues to make confronting hate crime and prejudice a key priority.
I am therefore pleased to be introducing this report, which is an overview of implementation of our 2017 Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities Action Plan. This report shows encouraging progress has been made towards tackling hate crime in Scotland, with successful delivery of the vast majority of the commitments arising from the recommendations made in 2016 by Professor Duncan Morrow's Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to all of the members of the Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities Action Group that was established to take forward this programme of work. I would also like to give thanks to the many other organisations that took forward specific, key pieces of work in this space. The commitment, dedication and support these organisations have shown collectively to effect the greatest impact for Scotland's communities has been incredible.
However, we know that there is more to be done to tackle hate crime and prejudice as we emerge from the pandemic and rebuild towards a better future. That is why we will continue to work with equality representative bodies and public sector partners to begin co-creation of a new hate crime strategy. The new hate crime strategy – which will be published in 2022 – will support implementation of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act. It will also consider other, non-legislative measures to provide the necessary tools and protections to confront hatred where it arises, and to better reflect the needs of our diverse communities.
I am very much looking forward to continuing to work closely with communities across Scotland in order to achieve our shared vision of a society where there is simply no place for hatred and intolerance, where everyone feels connected, has a sense of belonging and is valued.