Universal Periodic Review 2022: Scottish Government Position Statement

This position statement sets out the action we've taken in devolved areas since 2017 to respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights of everyone in Scotland.

3. Tackling Hate Crime

The Scottish Government unequivocally condemns any form of hatred or prejudice. Scotland is a diverse, multi-cultural society and this diversity strengthens us as a nation. Hate crimes can negatively impact the enjoyment of a range of human rights, including the right to life, the right to human dignity, the right to non-discrimination, and the right to freedom of religion. That is why we work cooperatively with a range of organisations throughout the country to tackle all forms of hatred and prejudice, and we encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed a hate crime or incident to report it directly to the police or by using a third party reporting centre[114].

A) The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in March 2021[115] and received Royal Assent in April 2021. Once in force, the Act will modernise, consolidate, and extend existing hate crime legislation in Scotland. It will maintain current legislative protections against offences aggravated by prejudice towards disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, and variations in sex characteristics, and it will also extend protection to the characteristic of age. The Act also provides for new “stirring up of hatred” offences covering all characteristics protected in the updated legislative framework, to complement the existing offence of stirring up racial hatred that has been part of Scotland’s criminal law and the law of the whole of the UK for decades.

Building on progress in this area, the Hate Crime Strategic Partnership Group[116], convened by the Minister for Equalities and Older People, met for the first time in April 2022. The Group is made up of key multi-agency delivery partners and stakeholders, and the characteristics represented by the Group include age, disability, religion, race, sexual orientation, transgender identity, and variations in sex characteristics. The Group will work to develop a new hate crime strategy that will help guide how we continue to tackle hatred and prejudice in Scotland and will support implementation of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021[117].

B) Working Group on Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021[118] includes a power to add the characteristic of sex to the hate crime legislative framework. The Scottish Government established an independent Working Group on Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland[119], chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, to specifically look at misogyny in Scotland, and to explore in particular whether there should be a standalone offence to tackle misogynistic conduct and whether the characteristic of sex should be added to the hate crime legislative framework.

The Group’s report was published in March 2022[120] and the First Minister welcomed its recommendations in her International Women's Day address to Parliament[121]. The Report recommended the creation of a “Misogyny and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act” containing three “women only” offences: a standalone offence of stirring up hatred against women and girls, a new offence of public misogynistic harassment, and a new offence of issuing threats of, or invoking, rape or sexual assault or disfigurement. The report also recommended that a distinct and separate statutory misogyny aggravation should be made available in new legislation, allowing judges to take account of the misogynistic nature of conduct when sentencing. The report recommended against adding sex as a characteristic to the existing hate crime framework, reasoning that this would not be creating a new law for women and girls, and that women and girls should not be treated as a minority.

The Scottish Government published its response to the Group’s report in April 2022[122], in which it set out the issues to be considered for each recommendation and the Scottish Government’s intention to consult on draft legislation in advance of introducing a Bill.

C) Reporting and Recording Hate Crime

In October 2020, the Scottish Government relaunched a publicity campaign in partnership with Police Scotland which aimed to encourage witnesses of hate crime to report it[123]. The campaign was a series of letters addressed to perpetrators of hate crime, which stated that “Your hate has no home here” and were signed “Yours, Scotland”. Due to concerns raised by our stakeholders about an increase of online hate throughout the pandemic, our 2020 campaign also included content to address online hate. The evaluation of the 2020 campaign indicated that individuals would be more likely take action to make a report if they experienced or witnessed a hate crime as a result of the campaign.

In December 2021, the Scottish Government published a report on the implementation of the actions set out in the Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities Action Plan[124]. The report shows that encouraging progress has been made in a number of key areas, such as in raising awareness of hate crime and encouraging reporting, including through marketing campaigns, and in ensuring the availability of better and more robust data and evidence on the characteristics of hate crime in Scotland.

In February 2021, the Scottish Government published A Study into the Characteristics of Police Recorded Hate Crime in Scotland[125]. This was the first time that such a high-quality measure of police-recorded data on hate crime had been published. The report presented updated statistics on the number of hate crimes recorded by the police in Scotland from 2014-2015 to 2019-2020, along with more detail on the nature of the hate crimes recorded by the police in 2018-2019, including the characteristics of the victims and perpetrators. A study of the characteristics of hate crimes recorded by the police in 2020-2021 is ongoing and will be published later this year.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021[126] makes provision requiring information about police-recorded hate crime and hate crime convictions data to be published annually, and we are currently developing our approach in partnership with justice agencies.


Email: ceu@gov.scot

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