SCOTLAND is becoming a “less welcoming place to live” for transgender people as figures show a staggering rise in the number of hate crimes committed against them in the past year, campaigners have said.
Police Scotland’s quarterly performance report revealed that there has been a “signficant” increase in reports of hate crimes with transgender, ableist and sexual orientation aggravators.
Transgender-related hate crimes rose by 76.7% between 2020/21 and 2021/22, from 43 to 76.
Although this equates to only 2% of hate crimes overall, campaigners have said it shows the effect of the “intense public spotlight” on transgender people, particularly on social media sites.
It is estimated that the number of trans and non-binary people living in Scotland is only around 0.6% of the population.
The Scottish Greens have said the figures are “deeply concerning” and called for those “weaponising hatred” against trans people to stop.
Hate crimes linked to sexual orientation also saw an increase of 7.5% from 787 in 20/21, to 846 in 21/22.
Maggie Chapman, Scottish Green MSP, said that trans people suffer a ‘torrent of abuse’
There was also an 18.9% increase in hate crimes which related to a disability, with the report noting that this related to “mask wearing exemptions” during the Covid-19 pandemic.
For hate crimes committed against trans people, those with disabilities and relating to sexual oritentation, the report noted that the figures have increased “almost year-on-year” over the past five years.
It continued: “The precise reasons for this trend are unclear, but all three categories have seen increased political and media coverage.”
Maggie Chapman MSP, Scottish Greens justice spokesperson, said: “I am deeply concerned about the sharp increase in transgender related hate crime. I have no doubt that this spike in hate crimes relates to much of the ill-informed discussion around plans to reform the gender recognition act that we’ve seen in the media, and on social media, recently.
“Politicians have a responsibility not to stoke up this issue: those who have weaponised hatred against trans people – for whatever reason – must stop, and stop now.
“The trans community is small, but are on the receiving end of an endless torrent of abuse and misinformation which is sadly reflected in these statistics.”
Chapman added that she is “proud” the SNP-Green co-operation will deliver “long awaited improvements” to the Gender Recognition Act, allowing trans people “more control over their own lives”.
The figures contained in Police Scotland quarterly report regarding hate crimes
Vic Valentine, manager at Scottish Trans Alliance, said: “Unfortunately, these figures reflect what trans people are often telling us: that they are worried that Scotland is starting to feel like a less welcoming place to live, work, and just be ourselves.
“The last few years have seen an intense public spotlight on trans people, that often relies on outdated, offensive and untrue stereotypes about who trans people are, and which rarely includes our voices in the conversations about our lives.
“We very much hope that everyone can agree that no one should be the victim of a crime simply because of who they are, and that we should all work together to ensure that Scotland is a much more welcoming and accepting country for us all.”
Sasha Misra, associate director of communications and campaigns at Stonewall, said that the figures were “deeply concerning”.
She said: “Over the last few years, we’ve seen reports of transphobic attacks and hate crimes increasing across the UK, and this has been happening alongside a significant uptick in anti-trans sentiment online and across the media.
“We all need to do more to challenge anti-trans sentiment, and ensure that all trans people are safe to be themselves, wherever they are.”
Activists have said the figures showed the ‘intense public spotlight’ on trans issues
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Whilst the rise in hate crimes recorded by the police including a trangender identity aggravation may be attributed to a greater frequency of crimes occurring, it may also be attributed to an increased confidence in the reporting of instances of hate crime to the police – something that is to be encouraged.
“However, these figures are a reminder to redouble our efforts to tackle hate and confront prejudice towards our LGBTI communities.”