Green bill on hate crime passed by Parliament!

Posted on June 3, 2009

The Scottish Parliament today passed Green MSP Patrick Harvie’s Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Bill without opposition and without any amendments. (1) The legislation, which has received significant support from Scottish Ministers, will now go to the Queen for Royal Assent.

Statutory aggravations already exist to cover offences motivated by religious or racial hatred, allowing Scots courts to issue tougher sentences. This legislation will now extend that principle to cover hatred based on disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“The Parliament has today spoken with one voice, and this is a day all Scots can be proud of. At last, our courts will be required to hand down sentences for hate crimes against LGBT and disabled Scots that reflect the true nature of these crimes, just as they already can for offences motivated by racial or religious hatred.

“Some people still think Greens only deliver on the environment, but a tolerant Scotland at ease with itself is a crucial part of our vision too. This legislation is a small but significant step in that direction, but I personally will never be satisfied until these abhorrent crimes are a thing of the past altogether.

“I would also like to thank all those who have helped this Bill get onto the statute books, including those brave victims who have been prepared to come forward as well as a wide range of voluntary organisations, the police, and Scottish Ministers.”

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

“No one in Scotland should have a crime committed against them simply on the basis of disability or sexual orientation. With hate crime, that is exactly what happens.

“This sends a clear message that prejudice, hatred and crime aimed at specific groups is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. That’s why I am pleased that the Bill has now been passed by Parliament.

“The Bill will improve the way the courts deal with these crimes. If it’s shown that the motivation for an offence was hostility and ill-will based on sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability, that will now be taken into account and the sentence be able to reflect that.”

Notes

1. For more information about the legislation, see:
www.scottish.parliament.uk